Bacon and Cheese Manicotti

20140723_195247_RichtoneRecipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com.

INGREDIENTS

Manicotti

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 manicotti pasta tubes
  • 9 slices applewood smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta, room temp.
  • 1/3 cup grated parm cheese, room temp.
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, room temp.

Sauce

  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cup coarsely grated whole milk mozzarella
  • 1 ½ cup jarred tomato basil sauce

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-by-11 inch oval or rectangle baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Bring a large pot of boiling salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the oil and pasta. Cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and cover with plastic wrap to prevent the pasta from drying out.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and brown, about 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, add the cooled bacon, the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, the pepper, nutmeg, and egg. Stir until well combined. Using a small spoon, fill the manicotti tubes with the ricotta mixture.

Bring the cream, milk, flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mozzarella in batches, constantly whisking, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer one minute, whisking occasionally. Whisk in the tomato basil sauce. Pour half of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the manicotti in a single layer on the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the manicotti and top with the mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil and cover the dish with foil. Bake until heated through and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Note from Chef Cat:
I sometimes feel overwhelmed if a recipe calls for too many ingredients or the directions are lengthy. This may be the case for this recipe, but it is extremely easy. The only substitutions I made were smoked cherrywood bacon and plain marinara sauce. (I just added in fresh basil—basil is the love of my life). Stuffing the manicotti became time consuming for me, but don’t get frustrated. Good luck and enjoy! 

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