This is always a hit, even though it has spinach in it, which the kids usually avoid. Both kids had seconds, as did Curtis and I. I like this recipe because I don't need to cook the manicotti before baking it. They are much easier to stuff that way. However, you do end up with manicotti that isn't fully stuffed (the pasta expands as it cooks), but I think the ease and time saved is worth it. I have tried cooking the manicotti first and just not baking it very long. I think I like the ease of preparation better than perfectly stuffed manicotti noodles. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't do the dish justice. It tastes much better than it looks!
2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
16 oz cottage cheese
10 oz spinach, chopped
1/4 c Parmesan, grated
1 1/2 t dried oregano (or basil)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
8 oz pkg manicotti
26 oz jar tomato-basil pasta sauce (I used my own canned pasta sauce instead)
1/2 - 1 c water
Combine 1 1/2 c mozzarella, cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan, oregano, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour half of tomato basil sauce into greased 9 x 13" baking pan. Spoon enough spinach mixture into each uncooked manicotti noodle to fill. Arrange in a single layer over the sauce. (If you have leftover spinach mixture, like I always do, top the manicotti first with that). Top with remaining sauce. Pour water over dish (I only use 1/2 c water---it's just to help the pasta cook. If your pasta sauce looks really thick, you can use a full cup.) Sprinkle remaining mozzarella evenly over sauce. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 1 hour or until manicotti is tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.