Zucchini Filled Manicotti

This is one of the few recipes I actually make at home on a regular basis. I know… “Carolyn you cook at work why wouldn’t you cook at home?” Well… because I cook all day at work! By the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is cook even more. My boyfriend hates it.

Don’t worry, I always bring leftovers home so it’s not like there isn’t anything to eat. Besides… he’s a big boy, he can fend for himself.

But I do try to cook at home more, because let’s face it: leftovers are great and all, but something fresh from the stove or oven is always better. My goal is once a week… usually Saturdays I’ll cook something.

This is one of my favorite recipes to make for that. I like it for a few reasons.
1. Manicotti are one of my boyfriend’s favorite food. I’m pretty sure everyone likes manicotti. So I don’t have to worry about putting effort into cooking something that he isn’t going to like.
2. It makes 10 manicotti, which is 5-10 servings (depending on if you eat 1 like I do, or 2 like he does). You got it, folks! I like making this because there are always leftovers. Leftovers mean at least a few days that I don’t have to listen to him complain about having nothing to eat (even though there is always food in the house).
3. You can add pretty much anything you want to these.

I know they are usually made with ground beef, but we all know that I am a vegetarian sooo not when I make them! Of course I still want to have a little extra nutritional value besides pasta, cheese and sauce (though ricotta does have a good amount of protein for cheese!). So normally I pull out my trick of using diced mushrooms in place of beef.

Except, this time I misjudged when I would make it so by the time I got around to it, the mushrooms had already gone bad.

Oops…

But we did have zucchini in the kitchen. So why not? And let me just say that they actually came out GREAT! I truly feel you can stick any veggies in these and they’ll go just fine. Maybe a combination of mushroom and zucchini, or some chopped spinach with shredded chicken and use alfredo sauce on top instead of marinara. Can we say YUM?!

Ingredients
10 manicotti noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 small zucchini
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
15 ounces ricotta
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
16 ounce jar marinara sauce

Pasta Cooker
20-cup Digital Multicooker with Sauté-then-Simmer STS®
DoveWare Casserole Dish
10 manicotti
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Finishing Time: 20 minutes

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
2. Use your Pasta Cooker to cook the manicotti noodles according to the package instructions. When done, make sure to let them cool on a sheet pan so they keep their shape.
3. Set the Multicooker to Sauté-then-Simmer STS®; add the oil, close the lid and let heat for about 5 minutes.
4. Add in the onion, zucchini, and garlic; season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook while stirring frequently with a long-handled wooden or heat-safe spoon until the zucchini is done and most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10-15 minutes).
6. When done, turn off the cooker and let the veggie mix cool to room temperature.
7. While the vegetables are cooling, in a large bowl mix together the ricotta, 2 cups of the mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan, the basil, and parsley.
8. Once it is mostly cooled, add the cooked zucchini mixture into the ricotta. Stir until well combined.
9. Spread about ⅓ of the marinara sauce onto the bottom of the casserole dish.
10. Scoop the ricotta mixture into a pastry or plastic sandwich bag; cut off the corner.
11. Fill the manicotti, being careful not to overfill and split the pasta. Place filled manicotti in the casserole dish.
12. Repeat with remaining manicotti until all are filled and in the dish.
13. Top with the remaining sauce, then sprinkle with desired amount of the remaining cheese.
14. Bake for 30-35 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly. NOTE: I like to set the oven for broil during the last 5 minutes so that the cheese gets a little bit browned.
15. Remove from the oven. Wait at least 15 minutes before serving.

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