We have been very busy recently planting our vegetable garden and flower beds, although we have had to work around constant rain. We left a rainy cool, Umbria less than two weeks ago, and it seems we brought the rain with us because it has rained almost daily since. Luckily our vegetable beds are raised ones so they drain well, but everything else is heavily soaked.
I have made so many trips to our local nursery this week in fact, I feel like I am on a first name basis with one of the cashiers. When we are busy working around the house, I like to prepare dishes first thing in the morning that I can pop in the oven just before dinner.
I have always been a big fan of baked pasta, and it is usually my go-to dish whenever we have guests for dinner, or if I need something I can prepare ahead of time and then bake just before serving. This baked pasta dish is a hearty one as it combines chicken and two types of cheese.
Manicotti are simply pasta tubes that are precooked, then stuffed and layered with sauce before baking. It is important to undercook the shells before you stuff them as they will be cooked again in the oven. For the filling, you can use leftover chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken, or simply poach a couple of chicken breasts. The chicken is mixed with the ricotta cheese to make a creamy, moist filling.
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, Minced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 Cup Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Basil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chicken Breasts, Shredded
- 1 Package Manicotti Tubes
- 1 Recipe Tomato Quick Sauce (Or Favorite Jarred Tomato Sauce)
- 2 Cups Baby Spinach
- 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat the oil in a pan, then gently fry the onion 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until fragrant.
- Put the onion mixture in a mixing bowl, then add the ricotta cheese, egg yolks and fresh basil leaves.
- Mix, season with salt and pepper, and then stir in the chicken.
- Put the mixture in a blender and pulse until you achieve a coarse texture.
- Cook the manicotti in a large pot of lightly salted water until they just begin to soften but are still very "al dente"
- Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a large oven-proof dish.
- Spoon the smooth filling into the the pasta tubes using a pastry bag, then arrange them in the dish.
- Add the spinach and heavy cream to the remaining tomato sauce in a saucepan, and heat until the spinach wilts into the sauce, then mix well.
- Pour this sauce over the pasta tubes, top with the grated parmesan and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and crisp on top and the pasta is cooked but still has a little bite.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 shells
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 333Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 453mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 23g