I know some people believe that Manicotti is not so much about the flavor as it is about the texture, but I think that if you can get both the flavor and the texture right then you have something phenomenal! I have made many variations of Manicotti, and as the result of my trials and errors, I have come to create the supreme Manicotti version. It is delicious, if I do say so myself! Bon Appetite!
(If you have extra filling after you have stuffed it in the shells, throw it in the freezer for later, or use it for Cucumber Roll-Ups)
1 box of Manicotti shells, not cooked
1/2 lb ground spicy sausage
1 pint light ricotta cheese
2 cups Italian cheese blend
1 cup chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 small red bell pepper, finely diced
1 bottle of spaghetti sauce
1 bottle of Classico’s Roasted Red Bell Pepper Alfredo sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Saute the sausage with the bell pepper, until cooked. Make sure the sausage is fairly small pieces. Allow the sausage mixture to cool, so that it wont melt the cheese.
Combine the ricotta, 1 1/4 cup Italian cheese, eggs, spinach, sugar, pepper and salt in a bowl until well mixed. Add the cooled sausage and stir.
Pour 1/2 cup of each sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Stuff the dry manicotti shells with the cheese filling, and put them in the pan. Top the manicotti with the remaining sauce, swirled (making sure that all areas of the manicotti are covered) and the remaining Italian cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 55-60 minutes, until the manicotti shells are cooked and soft.