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The Gift of a Meal: Baked Manicotti Florentine


Cottage cheese and ricotta are combined with spinach and fresh basil to fill manicotti shells. Covered in tomato sauce and baked with a bit of Parmesan cheese, this dish makes a wonderful gift for new parents or to those in need of a helping hand.

Several of my friends just had babies. Sweet-smelling newborns that look up at you with doe eyes, and then instantly snuggle down into your arms. As cute and sweet as babies are, it can be difficult as a new parent to be eating healthy and taking care of your body like you should, especially for mom, who may feel as though she’d just run the marathon of her life and been flattened by a truck all in one day.

Enter: The gift of food. This baked manicotti florentine is an easy one to throw together for friends, and it can be stored for a day in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen so they have the option to use it when they need it most. Plus, cheese-stuffed pasta is something that most people can agree on. Include a loaf of bread and a simple side salad for a complete meal.

Baked Manicotti Florentine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
8 ounces manicotti, approximately 12 shells
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and basil leaves and cook until wilted. Stir in the salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Mix cottage cheese, ricotta cheese together. Beat eggs and add to cheese mixture. Stir in the spinach.

Spread half of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ pan. Spoon the filling into the shells and place 12 shells into each pan. Cover with the remaining sauce, being certain to cover all the way to the edges of the noodles. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and place in freezer or the refrigerator.

To cook, bake thawed shells at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes and frozen shells at 325º for 60-65 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

Makes 4-6 servings.

** Read more from Shaina on Food for My Family! Follow Shaina on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for updates!

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