This Three-Cheese and Spinach Manicotti recipe is a household favorite for many reasons. It’s super easy to make, loaded with flavor, and gives Italian restaurant vibes. Each cylindrical shape of pasta is stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh spinach while herbs and spices add fragrance and flair. Serve this dish with a side salad and garlic bread for a weeknight-friendly meal everyone will love!
- 1 (8-ounce) box manicotti pasta shells
- 1 (5-ounce) carton fresh baby spinach
- 14 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese, about 2 cups
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes- optional
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (24-ounce) jar tomato basil sauce (we love Rao’s!)
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with baking spray or coat with a touch of olive oil, and then set the dish aside.
- Cook manicotti & blanch spinach. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the manicotti and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions. Then drain manicotti and dry on a single layer of paper towels. Add the fresh baby spinach into the same boiling water to blanch, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, fill a small bowl with ice water. Then use a slotted utensil or spider strainer to transfer the blanched spinach into the ice water bath to stop the spinach from cooking any further. Drain the ice water and wrap wilted spinach in a bunch of paper towels to gently squeeze out excess moisture.
- Prep manicotti filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese (saving about ⅓ cup for the topping!), parmesan, parsley, basil, garlic paste, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), and salt/pepper- to taste. Stir the filling together until well combined.
- Stuff manicotti shells. Add the filling into a large piping bag (or use a large plastic baggie). Grab the prepared baking dish and pour in about ½ of the tomato sauce, coating the bottom surface of the pan edge to edge. Then fill the manicotti shell with the spinach filling, gently pressing the filling into the hole being careful not to break the pasta shell (but it’s okay if that happens, too!). Then place filled manicotti shells right on top of the tomato sauce in the baking pan. Repeat the process until all shells are filled and assembled in the dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over shells and sprinkle reserved shredded mozzarella over shells.
- Bake manicotti. Place the baking dish into the oven, uncovered, to bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is somewhat bubbly and the manicotti is lightly golden and delicious-looking!
- Serve this three-cheese and spinach manicotti immediately. It’s incredible as-is, but also when paired alongside a side salad and garlic bread for a complete meal, mmm. Enjoy!
- Make-ahead manicotti: Prep and assemble the manicotti as directed in the recipe card (steps 1-4). Then cover the baking dish tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight. On the next day, simply pull it out the fridge and bake as directed.
- Freezing uncooked manicotti: Prep and assemble manicotti as directed, and then assemble in a freezer-safe dish. Make sure the dish is covered tightly in plastic wrap and foil to prevent freezer burn. It will keep stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let the manicotti thaw overnight in the refrigerator and remove wrap/foil; let sit at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake as directed, adding on a little more time, if needed.
- Freezing cooked manicotti: Make sure the manicotti has cooled to room temperature, first. Transfer cheese and spinach manicotti into an airtight container(s). Reheat in the microwave for 7-8 minutes or until warmed through. Alternatively, reheat in the oven at 325°F for 20-25 minutes or until warmed through.
- Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.
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