My Lasagna Alternative
Every time I go grocery shopping and ventures by the pasta section, I’m amazed by the many types of pastas in different sizes, shapes and colors. The one that has always caught my attention is those big shells called manicotti and I just know I will cook this pasta one day. So Sunday at home and I want to make something I haven’t done in my cooking life- baked spinach-mushroom manicotti. I used dried shiitake mushrooms which for me are the best and tastiest of all mushrooms and sweet basil leaves straight from the pot I bought last week. I was so pleased with the result because it can be a very good lasagna alternative- less work and diet friendly too because I only used two kinds of cheeses and I opted to use mushrooms and spinach instead of the usual ground meat.
Baked Spinach-Mushroom Manicotti
1 box (8 oz) Barilla Manicotti
2 cups chopped shiitake mushroom (I used dried ones which I soaked in warm water). I also saved the shiitake water after I squeezed the mushrooms and saved for later
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach, chopped
3 eggs slightly beaten
2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
2 (28 oz) can marinara sauce
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp chili flakes or ground red pepper
3 sachets of Equal or Splenda sugar substitute
1/3 cup chopped sweet basil leaves
1 tsp salt
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1.Cook the manicotti pasta according to package instructions, make sure to season with salt; drain and set aside
2.Heat oil in a skillet, sauté the garlic and mushrooms and let cook for minute then add the shiitake water and let it simmer over low heat. Add the chopped spinach when it’s almost dried and the broth was absorbed back by the mushroom. Let cool in a bowl.
3.Mix ricotta cheese with the slightly beaten eggs then add the salt and chopped sweet basil leaves
4.Mix with the sautéed veggies and set aside
5.Pour the marinara sauce in the skillet used to sauté the veggies
6.Season with salt, ground pepper; add the sugar substitute and let simmer for five minutes, set aside
1.Spread a generous amount of marinara sauce at the bottom of a pyrex dish or aluminum baking tray which is sprayed with baking spray.
2.Fill the manicotti shells with the mushroom mix and arrange in the pyrex dish. Top with more marinara sauce then sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
3.Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
4.Remove the foil then bake for additional 8-12 minutes or till cheese is bubbly
This recipe serves 14 people as there are 14 shells in a box