Make-Ahead Spinach and Feta Manicotti Recipe
Every four to six weeks, I take time out of my schedule to prepare several meals for the freezer. It's a little gift to myself, to make dinnertime easier in the weeks ahead. I might spend an hour or two cooking on a lazy afternoon, or I might wake up with the sun on a weekend day and cook all morning. It really depends on what our household needs at any given moment and what I feel like doing that day.
Spinach and feta cheese are happy companions in a number of Greek dishes. But they steal the show in this easy baked pasta dish. Remember to cook the noodles just until al dente or a tad firmer. The noodles will soften upon freezing and with further baking in the oven. And, if you like, package them in smaller baking dishes or store them in freezer bags without the sauce (freeze the sauce separately). That wasy, you can bake whatever quantity you want at serving time. Serves 5 to 7.
Spinach and Feta Manicotti with Lemon and Oregano
9 x 13-inch baking dish with lid
1 package manicotti (about 14 manicotti)
One 16-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 to 4 cups favorite red sauce
1. Grease the baking dish.
2. Cook the manicotti just until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the noodles.
3. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, the ricotta, feta cheese, egg, lemon zest, and oregano. Stir well to combine.
4. Fill the cooked manicotti by spooning a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into each one. You can also fill the manicotti using a piping bag made out of a quart-size freezer bag. Spoon the cheese filling into the bag and seal. Snip off one corner of the bag and pipe the filling into the cooked manicotti.
5. Arrange the manicotti in the prepared baking dish. Pour the sauce over the manicotti. Sprinkling the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
Cover and chill in the pan in the refrigerator before freezing.
To thaw and serve
Thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the pasta until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Recipe © 2012 by Jessica Getskow Fisher and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press