One of my favorite memories growing up is of my mom making manicotti for my birthday dinner. It is one of the meals I will forever cherish. It was an all-day adventure for her. She would make the noodles from scratch, make homemade spaghetti sauce and basically spend almost all day in the kitchen. BUT oh buddy, it was fantastic!! I loved my birthday for many reasons, but I would have to say this is near the top of the list.
Now that I am grown and out of the house, I no longer have homemade, amazing manicotti for my birthday…I also don’t really have the time to spend all day in the kitchen making my favorite meal. Enter in a much easier recipe.
Another added benefit of this recipe is that it can be prepared weeks in advance and frozen to be made another day. I make this meal quite often for new parents so they can have something to eat on the night of their choosing.
Without further ado, for those of you who love manicotti and want a little simpler recipe OR for those of you who have never had it, try this out and ENJOY!!
P.S. If you are just wanting spinach manicotti (no chicken), then just leave out the chicken part.
- 2 Boneless Chicken Breasts
- 1 container of Ricotta Cheese (low-fat) (15 oz)
- 1 cup of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 2 tsp. of Italian Seasoning (or more)
- 1 tsp. of Garlic Salt
- ¼ tsp. of Pepper (optional)
- 1 package of Frozen, Chopped Spinach
- 1 package of Manicotti Noodles (uncooked)
- 1 jar of Marinara Sauce (choose your fav)
If you are making these with the chicken, then cook the chicken breasts in the crockpot, covered with water, on LOW for 6-8 hours. Shred the chicken and set aside.
After they are done, prepare the ingredients.
Cook the spinach in the microwave according to the directions. If you are going to make it to eat the same day, begin preheating the oven to 375°.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread some of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the dish (about ¼ of a cup).
For the next part, I usually throw everything in my KitchenAide to mix it, but you can also just mix with your hands.
Put the chicken, cooked spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and all seasonings in the bowl and turn the mixer on low. OR combine with hands.
Transfer all of the mix into a freezer, Ziploc bag. Cut off one of the corners of the freezer bags. Cut off enough that stuff with push through, but not so much that you just have a blob of a mess. (The 1st time is also a pain, but after that, you’ll be a pro!)
“Pipe” the mixture into each one of the shells. The GREAT thing about this recipe is that you do NOT need to cook the shells beforehand. Just pipe into the uncooked, hard shells. I always pipe enough so there is some coming out on each side. Then lay them in the prepared dish.
After you are complete, top them with the remaining spaghetti sauce. If you want to sprinkle a little mozzarella on top, go for it!
Like I mentioned before, this recipe is great to freeze and have for late. OR in my case, it is great to make for other people. Thus, I label it with the name and instructions.
If you are going to make it to eat the same day, bake it COVERED for 1 hour. Serve and enjoy!!
Do you want the directions without all of the pictures? Check it out here: Chicken & Spinach Manicotti Recipe Card