Everything about this dish just screamed “comfort food” to me as I was putting it together. And is there any better time than a chilly Sunday night to indulge in a little comfort food?
This dish has definite kid-appeal, even with the little bit of spinach. Fortunately, my kids don’t balk at spinach in their meals since I’ve been sneaking it into their food almost as long as they’ve been eating table food. This dish is the perfect kind of dish for doing that too, since the chicken, pasta and cheese almost always guarantee a successful meal anyhow.
Chicken & Cheese Manicotti
- 1 box manicotti – cooked, drained and rinsed with cold water
- 1/2 lb. chicken, fully cooked and cubed (I used 2 chicken breasts, but this would be a great dish to use up any leftover chicken you might have on hand.)
- 1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 c. frozen spinach
- 1 t. Italian seasoning
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. garlic powder
- 1/8 t. nutmeg
- 3 T. butter or margarine
- 3 T. flour
- 1/2 c. chicken stock
- 1 c. milk
- 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese and seasonings.
2. Stir to combine and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter or margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken stock and milk. Bring to a slow boil until thickened slightly, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 c. mozzarella cheese.
4. Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish. Fill manicotti with chicken and ricotta filling. (An easy tip for filling manicotti – use a small spoon and fill to the middle of the noodle from one side. Then turn the noodle over and fill the remaining half.)
5. Layer filled manicotti into the casserole dish. Pour remaining sauce on top and then add remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.
With all of the filling work involved, this dish probably doesn’t qualify as quick and easy. But it’s definitely stolen moments friendly in that it can be fully assembled whenever you have time, up to 24 hours before baking.