Do you want to make a casserole without a bowl, a spoon or a pot? You do? Then this is the casserole for you. I make this often and double to have extra in my freezer to give away.
You DO NOT cook the manicotti prior to filling and freezing. That’s what makes this recipe so easy. The other easy part is the method to mix the filling ingredients. You mix the filling in a freezer bag by kneading it.
You start by preparing your pans with sauce in the bottom.
You dump the filling into a gallon size FREEZER bag and gently knead until it is mixed up.
Then you cut a small corner of the bag; about 1/2″. You want the filling to flow easily through the opening, but you don’t want it to pour out too quickly. Don’t cut it too small because there will be too much pressure and the bag could burst. Once you do it a couple of times, you will get the feel of piping cheese into the shells. I fill one side horizontally and then turn the shell and fill the other.
Fill all the shells dividing between two 8×8 pans or one 9×13.
Cover all the shells with the marinara sauce. I use Hunts when I don’t have time to make homemade marinara.
Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
Cover the pans with heavy duty foil labeled with thawing and cooking instructions. This is the most important part when you’re giving a casserole away. It’s handy for people to have the instructions right at their fingertips.
Shells are $1.50 at Wal-mart and the sauce is $1. Cheese prices range. I leave out the parmesan cheese sometimes and it’s still great. You can substitute ricotta, but try the cottage cheese. It makes a terrific ministry meal to give away to someone in need and it’s easy because there’s “no cooking” involved. P.S. Your family is a ministry too, so be sure to double this recipe to have enough for them and others in need.
No bowl, spoon or boiling required to make this frugal, freezer-friendly ministry meal for your family and another.
- Filling Ingredients (Place inside a gallon size freezer bag):
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
- Add: 1 ½ teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Remaining Ingredients:
- 1-8oz. package manicotti
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Jar or can of favorite marinara sauce (I use the $1 can Hunts marinara when I don't have homemade on hand)
- cooking spray
- Combine filling ingredients and gently knead until thoroughly mixed.
- Clip a small corner, about 1/2", of the bag and proceed to fill manicotti according to desired tray size.
- 2-8x8 pans: Spread 1/4 cup sauce in each pan. Pipe 1/2 cup of cheese filling into each tray of manicotti. Top with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/8 Parmesan cheese.
- 1-9x13 pan: Spread about 1/2 cup sauce in pan. Pipe all cheese into both trays. Pour remaining sauce on top. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Cover shells completely with sauce.
- Label and spray with foil to prevent cheese from sticking. Cover completely.
- Baking Day: Thaw 24 hours. Bake covered at 375 for one hour until shells are tender. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
This is linked to southernsavers