Cheesy Stuffed Manicotti: A Delectable Italian Delight

Cheesy Stuffed Manicotti: A Delectable Italian Delight


Enjoy the delectable aromas of cheese-stuffed manicotti, a traditional Italian dish that is certain to please your family and guests. Tender manicotti tubes lavishly stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese are cooked to perfection in a thick marinara sauce in this delectable dish. Prepare to enjoy this delightful and cozy meal’s gooey sweetness!

What is Manicotti?

Large, tube-shaped pasta noodles filled with a flavorful combination, typically prepared with cheese, vegetables, or meat, make up the Italian pasta dish known as manicotti. The Italian term “maniche,” which refers to the pasta’s tubular shape and implies “sleeves” or “little shirts,” is where the word “manicotti” originates.

Cannelloni-like pasta tubes that are slightly larger are traditionally used to make manicotti. The spaghetti tubes are baked in a sauce after being loaded with a tasty filling and cooked until they are al dente. Ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, and occasionally eggs and herbs make up the majority of the manicotti filling.

But the filling can be altered to contain spinach, mushrooms, ground pork, or other items to suit personal preferences.

Prep time: 25 minutesCook time: 45 minutes
Rest time: 10 minutesServing: 4
Cuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium


For the Manicotti:

  • 1 package of dried manicotti tubes (approximately 14 tubes)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for a kick)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Topping:

  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)


Prepare the Marinara Sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes.
  • Add dried basil, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper.
  • Let the sauce simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  1. Cook the Manicotti:
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the manicotti according to the package instructions until al dente. Avoid overcooking, as they will continue to soften during baking.
  • Once cooked, drain the manicotti and rinse them under cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  1. Prepare the Cheese Filling:
  • In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, beaten eggs, chopped parsley, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well until everything is evenly incorporated.
  1. Stuff the Manicotti:
  • Using a spoon or a piping bag, carefully fill each manicotti tube with the cheese mixture. Be gentle to avoid tearing the pasta.
  1. Assemble and Bake:
  • Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce at the bottom of a large baking dish.
  • Arrange the stuffed manicotti in a single layer over the sauce.
  • Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed manicotti, covering them entirely.
  • Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese over the top.
  1. Bake and Rest:
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  1. Garnish and Serve:
  • Let the cheesy stuffed manicotti rest for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Optionally, garnish with fresh basil leaves for a pop of color and added freshness.

Sauce Variations?

The most common sauce used for manicotti is a tomato-based sauce, such as marinara sauce or tomato sauce. These sauces complement the creamy cheese filling of the manicotti and add a rich, flavorful element to the dish. Here are some popular sauce options for manicotti:

  1. Marinara Sauce: A classic marinara sauce is made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs (such as basil and oregano), and olive oil. It’s a simple yet delicious sauce that pairs well with the cheesy filling of the manicotti.
  2. Tomato Sauce: Similar to marinara, tomato sauce is a basic tomato-based sauce but can be slightly thicker and may include additional ingredients like carrots and celery for added flavor.
  3. Bolognese Sauce: For a heartier option, you can use Bolognese sauce, a meat-based tomato sauce that typically includes ground beef or a combination of beef and pork. The richness of the Bolognese sauce complements the cheesy filling and adds a meaty touch to the dish.
  4. Alfredo Sauce: If you prefer a creamy sauce rather than a tomato-based one, you can opt for Alfredo sauce. Made with butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese, Alfredo sauce provides a luscious and indulgent flavor that pairs well with the cheese-stuffed manicotti.
  5. Pesto Sauce: For a unique twist, consider using pesto sauce made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Pesto adds a vibrant, herbal taste that complements the cheesy filling beautifully.

Ultimately, the choice of sauce depends on personal preferences and the flavors you want to highlight. Each sauce brings its own unique taste to the manicotti dish, making it a versatile and customizable meal that can suit a variety of tastes and dietary preferences.

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