Delicious for company, this cheesy baked pasta dish has always been a hit at my house. The great thing is that it boasts a bunch of delicious veggies-and if you cut them small using a food processor, the kids won’t even notice!
Cheesy Turkey Manicotti
Adapted from Crazy Plates
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup eat grated carrots, grated zucchini, and finely chopped mushrooms (just use a food processor if you have one)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 oz light cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
14 manicotti shells, uncooked
3 cups of your favorite low fat, tomato based pasta sauce
shredded mozzarella cheese
Start a very large pot of salted water boiling on the stove.
In a little olive oil over medium heat, sauté garlic and onions until soft, stirring. Add the ground turkey, stirring and breaking up the pieces as it cooks, and cook until it’s no longer pink. Drain off the fat. Stir in the carrot, zucchini, mushrooms, basil, and oregano. Continue to cook and stir for about 3 minutes until the veggies are slightly soft. Add the cream cheese and stir, cooking until it melts and coats everything. Remove from the heat and stir in the ricotta and parmesan cheeses.
Transfer the filling to a bowl and set in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.
By now, your water should be boiling. Add the manicotti noodles and cook according to package directions. They are easier to fill if they are slightly undercooked, so even though the package I usually use says to cook them 10 minutes, I usually cook them for about 7-8 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread just enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom. One by one, spoon filling into the manicotti shells with a teaspoon. This can be a bit messy, but hang in there because it’s so worth it. Line up the stuffed shells on top of the tomato sauce, arranging so they fit in the pan. When you are finished, top the stuffed manicotti with the remaining tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella.
Grease a piece of foil and place, greased side down, on the cheese, sealing everything tightly. The grease keeps the cheese from sticking to the foil, which has always been a pet peeve of mine. This way the cheese stays on your manicotti.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbling and delicious. Let sit for 5 minutes to cool before serving.