To any Italians out there, I'm Polish, don't judge.
I’ve decided to clean out my pantry and freezer. I had half of a package of manicotti, exactly 7 tubes, a brick of frozen spinach and some ground chicken.
- 1 tub of ricotta
- 1 package of chopped frozen spinach
- 1/2 lb of lean ground chicken
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp oregano (or any dried spice mix of your choice! choose your own manicotti-venture!)
- 1 can tomato sauce (I had no salt added sauce), you could use prepared pasta sauce as well.
- 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a 350 degree oven! Or not. Your choice!
Begin by par cooking your manicotti tubes. I only cooked mine about 6 minutes and drained them. Rinsed under a little cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside. There's nothing I hate more than overcooked pasta! ...maybe overcooked eggs. MAYBE.
Then fry up the chicken with 1 clove of minced garlic. I also added about 1 tbsp dried oregano, and 1 tbsp of nomu poultry spice. Try to break up the chicken into smaller bits, enough to fit into the noodle tubes.
Add the spinach and ricotta to the chicken mixture. Be sure get any water out of the spinach before hand. Squeeze squeeze squeeze! Add a good amount of salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. And set aside.. for now..
I added one medium sized can of tomato sauce to the pan I previously cooked the chicken in (I want those brown bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan. They're MINE.) I also added 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar fors some flavour and 1 tbsp of honey to break up the acidity of the vinegar and the tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside. You want this slightly watery, as the undercooked noodle will absorb this in the oven and finish cooking. You also don't want this sauce to be overwhelmingly flavoured, as the star will be the filling.
You can do this with a spoon if you're very careful and patient. But I'm not. So a piping bag will do! I've also used ziploc bags, or even grocery store bags in desperation. They work fine. Just be sure to cut a large enough hole that your filling will pipe through. Work slowly, the noodles are still able to break at this point. Also, as you can see I've poured most of the tomato sauce into a baking dish. The size of the baking dish will vary depending on how many manicotti you're making. I think this is like a ... 9x13 pan.
Nestle them onto the tomato sauce, not too crowded. Remember we're making manicotti, not lasagna!
Cover with remaining sauce and top with mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Uncover and broil a bit to brown the cheese. I didn't have any foil. So I balanced an upside down baking sheet ontop of my baking dish. Worked. I am the MacGyver of the kitchen.
Delicious! Unfortunately too delicious, as michael ate most of this and now I have no leftovers for lunch at work tomorrow...what to do...