Manicotti is one of my oldest daughter’s favorite meals. She has waited patiently for a few months years for me to make it for her again. I decided to make this one a little different by using a vodka cream sauce rather than the usual marinara sauce. This is not a quick meal but it truly is worth the time and effort it takes to prepare. 

manicotti vodka cream-2

Begin by preparing the sauce.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup of Vodka
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large oven proof pan, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add the vodka, cook and reduce by half. This picture was made before it reduced.
Once it has reduced, add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. 
Remove from the oven and stir in the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.
Meanwhile, make the filling for the manicotti.
16 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed completely and drained/squeezed well
12 oz Ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz mozzarella cheese (I used cheddar because it’s what I had)
2 eggs
6-8 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Mix thoroughly and set aside until ready to stuff the manicotti shells.

In a 9×13 pan, place enough sauce to cover the bottom well. 

Stuff the filling into uncooked manicotti shells. (YES…uncooked! Eliminates an entire step from the way I learned and you really cannot tell the difference.) You can use a piping bag, a large freezer bag with the corner cut off, or just use your hands and a butter knife. 

Have you noticed I have no pictures of that process? I really need to work on my blogging skills.

Place the filled shells in your baking dish and cover with the remaining sauce.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!


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