March 10, 2020

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti

An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.


I’m going to add personal chauffeur to my list of job skills because I swear, sometimes I feel like I spend more time driving my kids around than I do anything else. And they don’t tip! Or give me gas money.

I thought it was bad when they were little but having two teenagers at home who each play school ball, who each have active social lives, who each seem to need something special every week (wait, why can’t you wear black leggings at your presentation?? tell your teacher when she starts paying the bills around here she can... oh, never mind, she already doesn't like me, let's go...) means I hop all over the place all the time.

Even on Sundays. The Lord wants me to rest (and He knows I’d love to) but I left my house FIVE TIMES today to pick up, drop off or pop in somewhere for these dang kids. And that’s exactly when cooking something like this manicotti is the perfect solution.

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti! An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.

I cooked the sausage before I had to go pick up Brutus from a friend’s house. I assembled the rest of it after I dropped AB off at practice. And I baked it before we went to the game. Whew. So, when we finally all came home for supper, all I had to do was pop it in the oven to reheat while I assembled a salad. Baked pasta dishes are so forgiving like that.

This recipe is basically the same that I use when I make traditional stuffed shells so if you’d rather use jumbo pasta shells than manicotti tubes, go for it! This would also be great with cannelloni.

I always add spinach because A) spinach and Italian sausage just go together for me and B) it’s an easy way to sneak some extra vitamins and minerals into my family. I’m known to throw all sorts of veggies into this filling. Grated carrots, finely diced mushrooms and zucchini… really whatever I have on-hand.

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti! An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.

HOW TO MAKE BAKED MANICOTTI

Manicotti is simply a tube-shaped rigid pasta made for stuffing with either a meat or cheese filling. To make baked manicotti:
  1. Cook pasta tubes per manufacturer’s instructions
  2. Make the filling (typically a meat or cheese filling)
  3. Stuff the pasta tubes with the filling
  4. Arrange stuffed manicotti into a baking pan
  5. Cover with prepared sauce and cheese
  6. Bake until bubbly and delicious!

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti! An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.

This recipe only uses 8 ingredients (plus salt and pepper). To keep things simple and affordable, I just use my favorite jar of spaghetti sauce but feel free to make a homemade sauce if you prefer! I like to use prepared sauce for meals like this because then I don’t mind the extra time and effort to add fresh vegetables.

Using Italian sausage instead of ground beef saves time and money too because the meat doesn’t need any additional seasoning or ingredients. And that makes room for must-haves like freshly grated parmesan and good mozzarella (because they are sooooo muuucccch better than the pre-shredded, pre-grated stuff.).

You may notice I don’t use ricotta (or cottage cheese) in this. I really just prefer the silky, buttery mozzarella and parmesan in this dish. Plus this isn’t a classic cheese manicotti so using the traditional ricotta just doesn’t seem necessary.

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti! An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.

NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE

  • If you’re baking the manicotti immediately, boil the pasta for the entire time recommended per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’ll be assembling this the day before cooking (or more than 2 hours), boil pasta 2 minutes less than the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Feel free to use frozen spinach or to omit it altogether. If using frozen, use 1 10-oz box then unthaw and drain very well.
  • I prefer spicy Italian sausage but regular or sweet are great too.
  • One 8-oz ball of mozzarella yields approximately 2 cups shredded cheese.
  • I’ve never frozen this so I can’t tell you how well it freezes or offer cooking instructions from frozen.
  • If you assemble this ahead of time then refrigerate before cooking, add 15-20 minutes to the covered cooking time.

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti! An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.


manicotti, baked, stuffed, classic, cheese, meat, meaty, italian, sausage, spinach, cheesy, easy, best, how to, recipe, pasta
dinner, main dish, pasta
italian
Yield: 6-8 Servings
Author:

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti

Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti

An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.
prep time: 20 Mcook time: 50 Mtotal time: 70 M

ingredients:

  • 8 oz. manicotti pasta tubes
  • 1.25 lbs. Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 8 oz. mozzarella, shredded (divided)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 24-oz jar spaghetti sauce

instructions:

How to cook Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti

  1. Cook manicotti in liberally salted water per manufacturer’s instructions (see notes below).
  2. Meanwhile, remove casings from Italian sausage (if applicable) then cook and crumble sausage and onion in a large skillet until sausage is cooked through and browned. Add spinach then continue cooking for a few minutes or until spinach is wilted. Drain skillet if necessary.
  3. Remove sausage mixture from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, egg, garlic powder, salt and pepper then mix well.
  4. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray (or rub with olive oil). Spread 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the dish.
  5. Drain manicotti well then stuff each tube with meat mixture. Place stuffed manicotti in baking dish (I do one row down the middle then 4 tubes along the sides). If you have any of the meat mixture left over, just tuck it into the corners and/or crumble on top of the manicotti.
  6. Cover manicotti with remaining sauce, cover tightly with aluminum foil then bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until sauce is bubbly.
  7. Remove aluminum foil then top dish with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Continue baking, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly golden.
  8. Let dish rest 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

NOTES:

If you’re baking the manicotti immediately, boil the pasta for the entire time recommended per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’ll be assembling this the day before cooking (or more than 2 hours), boil pasta 2 minutes less than the manufacturer’s instructions.
Feel free to use frozen spinach or to omit it altogether. If using frozen, use 1 10-oz box then unthaw and drain very well.
I typically use Prego traditional spaghetti sauce.
I prefer spicy Italian sausage but regular or sweet are great too.
One 8-oz ball of mozzarella yields approximately 2 cups shredded cheese.
I’ve never frozen this so I can’t tell you how well it freezes or offer cooking instructions from frozen.
If you assemble this ahead of time then refrigerate before cooking, add 15-20 minutes to covered cooking time.

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Italian Sausage & Cheese Baked Manicotti! An easy recipe for classic, meaty baked manicotti stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese.

This recipe was shared at Meal Plan Monday!


8 comments:

  1. Yummy, I will be making this for dinner tonight!!!! It looks so good, and my 2 sons love pasta so this will be right up everyone's ally. Thanks for this recipe, and making it easy for me to decide "What's for dinner tonight"

    ReplyDelete
  2. And the true annoyance of it is that girls black pants all look like tight black leggings anyway!! Not sure I've ever rolled my eyes so passive aggressively more than when my daughter was trying on overpriced black pants that were so very necessary by the next day. Ugh. This pasta will help ease the pain. Yum for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right?! I have worn black leggings to everything from a swanky silent auction to my daddy's funeral! They're the new the little black dress... they can be dressed up or down however you want. UGH.

      Delete
  3. I never think to make manicotti or stuffed shells at home. I really need to change that, yours look amazing and you make it sound so easy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I made this last night. Another outstanding meal thanks to you. You’re recipes don’t disappoint!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do you think this could be made with lasagna noodles? My crew doesn't like the typical layered lasagna and I have some lasagna noodles I need to use.

    ReplyDelete

Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy