Book Club Recipe: Stuffed Manicotti

I love recipes that seem as though they took more work than they did. That’s why over the years I’ve served this stuffed manicotti recipe to more than one book club group. I’ve been enjoying eating these manicotti for years, as my mom used to make them when I was growing up. She learned how to make them from a friend with Italian roots. It takes a bit of work, but most everything can be done in advance and cooked the night of your meeting. You’ll wow your book club members when they come through your front door and smell these baking. If you’re planning a mother-daughter book club, this is a great recipe to pair with Gennifer Choldenko’s Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Stuffed Manicotti

Serves 8

Stuffing

  • 1 8 oz package of manicotti shells
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 10-oz package of frozen, chopped spinach, cooked and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • ¼ lb. Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Cook manicotti shells about they are nearly done, about 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain and cover with cold water to prevent sticking. In a large skillet, brown beef, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add onion and cook for an additional five minutes. Mix in spinach, egg, bread crumbs, cheese and oregano. Stir until well blended.

Stuff shells with mixture, being careful not to tear pasta. Place stuffed shells in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

Sauce

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 4-oz cans of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of water
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in large skillet and sauté beef until brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add onion, garlic and celery and continue cooking until onions are clear, about 5 minutes. Add in remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until boiling. Pour sauce over stuffed manicotti. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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