I had a heck of a time finding manicotti noodles in 2018. No grocery store in the vicinity sells them. I was about to head to an Italian deli a few miles from my house when I stopped at a local Whole Foods and found some noodles that seemed to somewhat resemble manicotti. The noodles weren’t as long but seemed to be about the right girth and I figured I could stuff them with one or two pieces of string cheese, so I shelled out $6 for this package of specialty noodles.
The package was 16 ounces and as you can see below, the recipe calls for only 8 ounces of noodles. So when I did not double the sauce or meat I wasn’t really surprised when I ran out of sauce at the part where I was supposed to be covering the noodles right before baking. I ended up dumping a can of whole tomatoes that I mashed with a fork on top of the noodles to make sure there was enough sauce. It worked!
This dish was as much of a success as it was when I made it 8 years ago. I had my cousin over for dinner and she loved, loved, loved it.
- 1 8 oz package manicotti shells
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 14 or 28 pieces string cheese
- 1/2 large chopped onion
- 1 26 oz jar marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- dried herbs (such as oregano, basil, etc.)
- Brown hamburger and onion over medium heat. Drain well. Add sauce and stir, cooking over low heat.
- Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse. Stuff each shell with one or two pieces of string cheese. Two is better if you like a cheesy meal.
- Cover the bottom of a 9×13-inch greased pan with half of the sauce. Or use two 8×8 inch glass pans.Place stuffed noodles in pan on top of the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and dried herbs.
- Return to oven and bake uncovered 10 to 15 more minutes or until cheese melts.
I adjusted the recipe slightly by sauteing mushrooms and onions in the pan with the meat. (It’s my opinion that you can add mushroom to most dishes and it will make the recipe that much better.) As directed in the recipe, I stuffed two pieces of string cheese in each noodle and divided the contents into two pans. Because this was the second of two pans and it had been frozen, I added 10 to 20 minutes to the baking time. Make sure to thaw the dish before baking if you freeze one of them!
I served the Manicotti with Texas toast garlic bread (found in BF’s freezer). I had a feeling this would be one recipe that BF found too cheesy. Much to my amazement, I was totally wrong. BF loved it. And not once did I hear a comment even close to… this dish has so much cheese.