You can find a blog for almost anything these days. It’s really amazing! This recipe is inspired by Mom on a Mission Sharing Christ Through Freezer Meals. I think a couple of things are genius that the mom on a mission, Jackie, did. She applied her cheese filling to the (in her case) manicotti (I am using jumbo shells because that’s what I had) without cooking the manicotti first. Have you tried to fill up hot pasta before? I love not cooking the pasta before filling it because it can be hot and dangerous trying to fill just-boiled pasta, AND it saves a BIG step.
The other tool she used that I am now implementing is the gallon size freezer bag. She used it to pipe the cheese filling into the dried pasta. Genius!! I adapted this recipe to the crock-pot, using ricotta instead of her suggested cottage cheese, and adding some healthification action with the veggies and spices and reducing the amount of cheese. We love cheese in the Sarr household, but I am just trying to use a little less these days.
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup spinach, chopped
- 1/4 cup broccoli, finely chopped
- a few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 T minced garlic
- dash cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
The Additional Ingredients:
- 16 oz. jumbo shells
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
- 24 oz. spaghetti sauce
- Spread enough spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Place all filling ingredients in a gallon size freeze bag.
- Squish and work the bag until thoroughly mixed.
- Cut a small corner of the bag (I cut about 1/3″).
- Pipe the cheese mixture into the jumbo shells.
- Place 1 layer of filled jumbo shells into the slow cooker.
- Generously cover the shells with sauce. If any part of the shells isn’t covered, it may not cook, since the pasta needs the moisture to soften it.
- Continue laying the filled jumbo shells and pouring sauce until you run out.
- Cook on high for 4 hours.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of mozzarella on shells.
- Serve with a big ol’ salad.
This is very similar in taste to a meatless lasagna. The family loves this dish! This is a great dish to double, cooking one in the crock pot, and baking the other for later, to freeze, or to give away. As I was cooking this, I checked it after two hours, and the pasta that was exposed (not covered with the spaghetti sauce) didn’t appear to be cooking, so I covered it with more sauce, and it worked to soften the shell.
Has anyone found any jumbo shells or manicotti that is whole wheat? That would be the next step in healthification of this meal.