I had some manicotti noodles and organic pasta sauce in the pantry that I had been putting off using, because “stuffing” anything seemed like it would require me to have more than the usual time set aside for cooking dinner. Well, I finally decided to use them, and I have no regrets! It was easy, affordable, and delicious. It did take a little more time than a “quick” 20-30 minute meal, but still not bad at all.
What I like about this recipe is that you can easily swap out any vegetables you’d like to fill your noodles. You can get creative, adding things to the top before baking, and you can even do neat things with the jar sauce to add your own flavors. The possibilities are all up to your time and creativity!
Let’s do it.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 35 min
Total time: 45 min
- 8oz pack of manicotti noodles, wheat option available if needed
- 3 yellow squash or zucchini (or mix with both)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion, I used yellow but any will do according to your preference
- 1 regular pack of mushrooms, about 2-3 cups
- 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- Pepper to taste
- Italian season or pizza season (usually a mix of oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, cilantro, savory blend) dry blend, 1 teaspoon or more to taste
- Sea salt to taste (begin with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and go from there)
- Onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon
- Garlic powder, sprinkle to taste
- Red pesto, for spreading across noodles so about 1/4 cup- 1/2 cup depending on preference of thickness
- 1 jar, usually 24 oz, of organic tomato pasta sauce, or sauce of any kind
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil- grapeseed or any other high oleic healthy oils are best. I used safflower oil.
Preheat conventional oven to 350°F
- Fill a large (8-10 qt) pot with water, more than half full but not all the way to the top so that water will not boil over. Bring water to rolling boil and add manicotti noodles. Use instructions on your pasta box here, so that your noodles come out perfect.
- As your water is warming up, or as your noodles are cooking, prepare vegetables by washing and scrubbing thoroughly. Chop all veggies (mushrooms, squash, zucchini, onion, garlic, and any preferred veggies) into small pieces. I chopped them four ways, creating small cubes.
- Add oil to pan, turn heat over medium, and add in your onion and garlic, first.
- Stir onion and garlic around for about 2 minutes, and then add in your desired veggies.
- Let veggies cook over heat for about 1 minute, then add your dry seasonings and spices.
- Allow seasoned veggies to cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Check noodles here, if they are still cooking. TIP: I definitely use timers when I am cooking more than one thing at once, so if this helps you stay on track, then go for it. If noodles are al dente, continue with instructions on box. Usually this is where you drain them.
- After draining noodles, I like to rub them gently and lightly with olive oil, or any other preferred oil. Rub the pan that the noodles will go on with a light coating of oil (cooking spray works too). Place noodles in your baking pan. TIP: your baking pan should have at least ½ inch height/depth, because we will be pouring sauce over the noodles to bake.
-Back to the veggies sautéing on the stove–
- Taste test veggie. Check for consistency- veggies should not be super soft or soggy, as they will still need to be firm enough to get stuffed into the noodles and bake in the oven.
- When they are desired texture of firmness, turn heat off and let cool before adding to noodles. TIP: transfer your vegetables to a large bowl to cool in.
- Get a teaspoon and scoop vegetables into your noodles. This part can be tricky, and it took me a few tries to get the flow of stuffing the noodles without anything coming out the other open end. I partially laid the noodle in the pan, with the top opening lifted up in my hand while I used y other hand to scoop the veggies in.
- Once all noodles are filled with desired veggies, they should be placed next to one another closely, so that the sauce can be poured over. Before pouring sauce, get a spoon or a cooking a sauce brush, and spread a thin layer of pesto sauce over your noodles.
- Get your pasta sauce, and pour over noodles, spreading evenly. I also added more veggies to the top of the sauce, along with sea salt to taste and more Italian herbs sprinkled over. TIP: be sure to cover the edges of the noodles with sauce too, so that they will not get hard/crunchy while baking.
- Place pan in the oven (should be on 350F) and let bake for about 10-15 minutes.
- Once noodles are done, the sauce should be a little bubbly and thick around the edges of pan. Take the pan out. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Ready to eat! Use a spatula and scoop your row of stuffed noodles onto your plate. If it all went as planned, the shells will still be firm, intact, and easy to transfer to a place without falling apart.
ENJOY this goodness.
Share your modifications and creativity with us if you use this recipe! Thanks for stopping by. Let’s eat!
The Love Revolution Blog