These spinach and cheese manicotti are filled with three cheeses – ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan, then topped with homemade sauce. So damn delicious!
Homemade Spinach Manicotti
The secret to the best, irresistible manicotti is to make them from scratch with my easy homemade crespelles, which are basically Italian crepes. It takes a little more time but it’s worth it! If you prefer using manicotti pasta, you can see my Baked Beef and Cheese Manicotti Recipe here.
Manicotti is a great dish for Christmas or Christmas Eve. If you’re planning a dinner party, you can double the recipe and make two trays. Serve it with a crisp salad and some bread on the side if you wish.
We had this for dinner last night and Tommy who’s pretty critical and picky, gave me the biggest compliment, he said it tastes like Pastosa Ravioli. If you live in New York and have tried Pastosa’s, you’ll know why that’s a compliment! I usually make my own homemade sauce, but last night I cheated and used Delallo’s Pomodoro Fresco because I’m obsessed (not a sponsored post, it’s just the best jarred sauce ever)! Like Pastosa, I only use Polly-O ricotta for the filling (yes, it makes a difference) as well as their mozzarella, which I prefer to grate myself by hand.
How To Make Manicotti
What’s the difference between manicotti and cannelloni ?
They are both very similar, the only difference is manicotti, is a filled crepe or “crespelle” rather than pasta. Cannelloni, can be stuffed with the same filling, but uses pasta instead. The confusion is the pasta you purchase in the store to make cannelloni, is called manicotti.
Although they are both delicious, this recipe is made with the crespelles which I personally love. The delicate crepes give the manicotti a lightness you just don’t get with pasta. It does take a little extra time, so I save this dish for special occasions and holidays. You can double the recipe and freeze one of the trays.
How do you make manicotti shells (crespelles)?
You start by making super thin crepes in a skillet. Don’t worry, they are much easier to make than they sound. My homemade crespelle recipe uses white whole wheat flour (all purpose gluten-free flour such as Bob’s Red Mill works too), eggs, milk and salt which are mixed in the blender. A crepe pan can be used, but it’s not necessary, I use a 8-inch non-stick skillet with a 6-inch surface and which works out perfect. I start by spraying the pan lightly with olive oil spray, then add two tablespoons of batter for each, swirl it around and once it sets, gently flip. Stack them on a plate, and once the crespelles are all made, lay them out on a work surface, fill and roll. After you make a few, you’ll be a pro!
How To Make Manicotti Ahead:
- This is a great dish to make for the holidays or special occasions because you can prep everything ahead. Make the homemade crespelles one day ahead and stack them on a plate. Cover them tight with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to fill.
- You can also make the spinach-ricotta filling one day ahead. The morning of, stuff the crespelles, roll them and refrigerate. Once you are ready to bake, pour the sauce in the baking dish, top with the manicotti, top with more sauce and cheese and bake until hot.
- Leftovers can be frozen. To freeze cooked, bake them in the oven then freeze. To reheat, transfer them from the freezer directly into the oven, cover and bake 350F until heated through, about 30 minutes.
- If you want to freeze them before cooking, you assemble them in aluminum tins, wrap with foil and freeze. Bake frozen and covered 350F about 40 to 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.
Homemade Spinach Manicotti
- 16 homemade crespelles
- 15 oz part skim ricotta cheese, I use Polly-O
- 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, reserve 1/2 cup Polly-O
- 1 large egg
- 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed really well
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Regianno*
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 2 1/2 cups jarred marinara or homemade marinara sauce
- Start by making the crespelles (see recipe link above)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, combine ricotta, 1-1/2 cups of the mozzarella, egg, spinach, parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
- Fill each crespelle with 1/4 cup spinach filling and roll.
- In a large baking dish, (or two smaller dishes) pour 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Place rolled manicotti seem side down onto baking dish. Top with 1 1/2 cups more sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake about about 25 minutes, until hot and bubbling, and the cheese is melted.
- *Use substitute for vegetarian parmesan.
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206 comments on “Homemade Spinach Manicotti”
Just made this tonight using the crespelle recipe and the marinara recipe. It was so good! I am definitely going to keep the marinara recipe and make it instead of using jarred pasta sauce for other recipes and as our pasta sauce. So glad to see I can make the crespelle ahead of time too!
Fantastic! I used Gina’s homemade Crespelle recipe for this and it was so good. I can’t imagine making it any other way. Excited to see how it cooks from frozen next time as I want to make two in one night.
A favorite recipe. I use cottage cheese instead of Ricotta, and cut back on other cheeses a bit. Wonderful this Christmas. Great vegetarian option to have anytime.
I have made these before and they are delicious. The only thing is the point value is off for WW. They actually come out to 6 Points EACH on the Blue plan. I just did the calculations on WW. However, I was able to find a Fat Free ricotta cheese and the whole foods 365 Mozz cheese is lower, so I made them 3 points each
Can this be frozen?
This is one of our favorite recipes!!!!
I made these tonight and they are to die for!
Very delicious and was easy.
Thank you for this awesome recipe.
I made this recipe for my lunch this week and it’s awesome! I actually split it into two 8×8 pans – one to cook now, the other is frozen for another meal. When I tell you it’s delicious? It was amazing! I did add some fresh basil to the crespelles to add a bit more flavor – turned out great! I have a ton of crespelles leftover that I’ll use for another dish.
Can you make this with fresh spinach and if so, How much do I use? Does it change the taste/texture?
Yes, you should be able too. I suggest sautéing it first – about 1 lb of spinach will get you the 10 oz for this recipe.
This was delicious. The crepes scared me, but they were so easy. Will definitely make again. I used fresh spinach because I donot like the tuff stems in frozen.
This was delicious! I am not crazy about ricotta so I whipped up cottage in my food processor and added minced garlic to the filling only because I just have to have garlic in my Italian dishes. Plan on making another batch of the crespelles today for the freezer to have this for dinner in no time. I will never go back to store bought manicotti!
I made these for Christmas dinner and was amazed at how beautiful and delicious they were. The crepe held up so well. Even the leftovers were still amazing. Thanks!
Wow, dinner tonight was incredible! My husband was impressed from start to finish. I made your delicious Manicotti, with both of the recommended extra steps of making the Crespelles and the marinara. Both are 100% worth the extra effort. I served it with the Italian Caprese Salad and the Quick Mussels Fra Diavolo. My husband said that he felt we were back in a fancy Italian restaurant on the Amalfi Coast (a special place in our hearts, as this is where we honeymooned). This one will definitely make the “greatest hits” list of Skinnytaste meals that we have experienced on your meal plan.
*Note* I made everything exactly as written in instructions as I have come to trust them completely
Aww, thank you Katrena! I am so glad you both enjoyed this!
Can you make this
Dish using fresh spinach instead of frozen? How much fresh? Does it change the result?
This was absolutely delicious. Some might look upon making the crispelles as slightly fussy, but I would much rather do that than boil manicotti, drain, and burn my fingers trying to stuff without splitting. Wonderful sauce, great blend of flavors, and even though I made this shortly after it was published, I still think of it.