Recipe: Stuffed Manicotti with Spicy Turkey Sausage

It’s darn cold around here, these days, so I thought that a nice, hearty lasagna would be just the thing to warm me up. Any excuse to fire up the oven, you know? But lasagna can be a lot of work… so I decided to make some stuffed manicotti instead (doesn’t it actually LOOK just like lasagna?).

Stuffed Manicotti

I’ve made stuffed shells before, but never stuffed manicotti, so it was a little daunting until I realized I could use my usual recipe, as is — it’s only the shape of the “containers” that is different.

Viva Italia jarGreat ingredients are always the key to a yummy dish, so I included two of my favorites: Viva Italia!, one of my own spice blends of course,  and a new favorite, Meesh’s Marinara by La Bella Cucina LLC. It’s a very fresh-tasting marinara made locally by a fellow Sicilian woman.

So this is how the dish comes together:

Ingredients:

1 box Barilla manicotti shells
1 lb hot turkey sausage
1T olive oil
1 jar Meesh’s Marinara (either version,  original or no salt, no sugar added)
1 large container ricotta
2 eggs
1 cup raw, diced up spinach or kale
2 tsp Viva Italia! spice blend
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/2 c grated Parmesan

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the sausage from the casing, and brown it in a heavy skillet with the olive oil until dark.
Add 1/2 of the marinara sauce to the sausage and mix well. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water for 1/2 the time stated on the box. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/4 of the mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, spinach or kale, the Viva Italia!, sea salt, nutmeg and cayenne. Mix well.
Place 3/4 cup of the sausage/sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 pan, spreading it around.
Gently fill each manicotti with the cheese mixture. Place in rows in the baking pan. It is OK if there is some filling left over, it can be used as a topping.
Spread the remaining sausage/sauce over the top of the filled manicotti. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top. If you have cheese filling left over, place it in small dots over the pasta.
Cover the baking dish loosely with foil,  and bake for 30 minutes or until the dish is bubbling.
This can be served right away, or saved for the next day. It also freezes well.

Meesh's LargeBasket-10_2012So where can you pick up some Meesh’s Marinara? I am so glad you asked 🙂 It is no coincidence that I use her sauce, and she packages my Viva Italia! (and also Sunny Sicilian) in her beautiful gift baskets! They truly are a fabulous pairing, as this recipe shows.

Photo credit (Viva Italia! jar):  Jason Foster-Bey, http://www.lightandawe.com

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Posted on February 18, 2013, in Main dish, Recipes, Testimonial, Viva Italia and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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