Easy Cheesy Manicotti

I’ve loved manicotti since I was a little kid, but I HATE, HATE, HATE to make it.  Individually stuffing all those shells drove me crazy, especially after a long day on the homeschool front.  By dinnertime I’m tired, and I want dinner to be quick and easy without resorting to fast food.

Several years ago I decided I was done stuffing manicotti and started making it this cheater way.  It’s not exactly the same, but it has all the same flavors without all the insane fuss.  The trick?  String cheese.  Instead of making a fancy schmancy filling, you just fill up the noodles with string cheese.  When it bakes it all becomes ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.  And the real flavor comes from putting the extra good stuff in the sauce that it bakes in.  Easy peasy.

Easy-Cheesy-Manicotti

Ingredients:

  • manicotti noodles
  • string cheese
  • pasta sauce/tomato sauce
  • your favorite Italian herbs and spices (garlic and oregano are mine, but an Italian seasoning mix will do just fine)
  • cooked and crumbled Italian sausage
  • 1 small carton ricotta cheese
  • grated mozzarella cheese

Manicotti-ingredients

Here’s what you do:

You just boil water and soften your noodles according to the directions on the package.  Because I bake it afterwards, I definitely keep the noodles on the al dente side.  Don’t cook them too long or they are hard to work with.  Firm, but not crunchy is what I aim for.

Boiling-Manicotti

Liz-stirring-manicotti

While that is boiling, combine the sauce, herbs and spices to taste, cooked sausage, and ricotta cheese in a bowl.  You don’t need to heat them.  They’ll get plenty hot in the oven.  Spread a little bit of this mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Not much, just enough to make a layer so your noodles won’t stick to the pan later.

Sauce-for-manicotti

Once your noodles are cooked, drain them well and let them cool for just a few minutes.  When you can handle them without getting burned, just slip a piece of string cheese inside each one and lay them in your 9×13 pan.

String-Cheese-Manicotti When they are all filled with string cheese, top them with the rest of your sauce.  Sprinkle them with mozzarella, because you can never have too much cheese.

Manicotti-GoodnessThen bake it for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until it is warm through and the cheese is all melty.

Easy-Cheesy-Manicotti

YUM.  That’s a version of manicotti even a tired and busy homeschool mama can handle!  And it’s always followed up by happy vibes from all my little people at the dinner table!

Printable Easy Cheesy Manicotti Recipe

Here’s a printable version of the recipe for you.

Easy Cheesy Manicotti

Easy Cheesy Manicotti

Ingredients

manicotti noodles

string cheese

1 large jar pasta sauce/tomato sauce

your favorite Italian herbs and spices (garlic and oregano are mine, but an Italian seasoning mix will do just fine)

cooked and crumbled Italian sausage

1 small carton ricotta cheese

grated mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Boil the manicotti noodles until they are al dente. Drain.
  2. Make the sauce by combining the pasta sauce, Italian herbs and spices to taste, Italian sausage, and ricotta cheese. Spread a thin layer of it in a 9x13 pan, reserving the rest.
  3. Place a piece of string cheese inside each manicotti noodle, and place them on top of the sauce layer in the 9x13 pan.
  4. Top it all with the remaining sauce and then mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
http://www.layers-of-learning.com/easy-cheesy-manicotti/

Bon apetit!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out some of our other yummy recipes from our recipes page.

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