Drew loves lasagna, spaghetti, anything really with a tomato-based sauce. I recently came across this recipe and we tried it (tweaking it a little to be gluten-free) and fell in love. It really is delicious and much better, in my opinion, than regular lasagna.
Cheese Stuffed Lasagna Manicotti
makes about 6 servings, original recipe from here.
-2 cups (16 oz) ricotta cheese
-4 cups shredded cheese (I use around 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan, and 1 cup white cheddar)
-2 large eggs
-2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
-2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped (optional, if I don’t have this on hand, I usually just add a little dried basil or Italian seasoning)
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
-12 lasagna noodles (I use gluten-free ones, of course)
-3 cups (24 oz) garlic and herb pasta/marinara sauce
1. Boil several cups of water on the stove or in a teapot.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Lay lasagna noodles out flat in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour boiling water on top of them, and let them soak until pliable, 5-10 minutes. (You might have to separate with a knife or fork every so often to prevent sticking).
4. In medium-sized bowl, shred cheeses (mozzarella, Parmesan, white cheddar, etc.) and mix together. Even though it takes longer, I try to always freshly shred any cheeses I’m going to bake with. Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in flour or cornstarch to prevent clumping and can result in an unpleasant, gritty texture when melted (not to mention that it isn’t always gluten-free!).
5. Remove 1 cup of cheese, reserving for later.
6. In the bowl with the rest of the cheeses, mix in ricotta, eggs, parsley, basil, salt and pepper.
7. Remove noodles from water and place in a single layer on clean dish towels with the short ends facing you.
8. Discard water from 9×13 inch baking dish, then spread 1 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread evenly.
9. Spread cheese mixture over the bottom three-quarters of each noodle. Roll the noodles up around the filling and place in rows on top of the pasta sauce in baking dish.
10. Once all noodles are in baking dish, spread the rest of the pasta sauce over the tops of the noodles.
11. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes.
12. Remove foil, top noodles with the remaining cup of shredded cheeses and bake for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
P.S. These are delicious and make a great meatless meal! You could also add in chopped spinach to this recipe (add it into the cheese mixture) or if you must have meat, add cooked ground beef or sausage into the pasta sauce. You can also freeze the stuffed noodles to cook later, just place filled noodles seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced out so they aren’t touching. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag or other airtight container. When ready to bake, follow the rest of the assembly instructions above, but increase the baking time (while covered with foil) to about 40 minutes.