Spinach and Ham (or Chicken) Manicotti
"Lean meat, spinach, and a creamy nutmeg sauce make this special!"Serves 6-8 | Prep Time 35 minutes | Cook Time 30-40 minutes
Why I Love This Recipe
This recipe has been in the family rotation for many years and is always a favorite. The nutmeg sauce is light, creamy, and delicious and makes a wonderful digression from the traditional heavy red or Alfredo sauces used with pasta. The use of chicken or lean ham with the spinach makes it healthy and a complete meal.
Submitted by: "Wendy Schmitt"
Ingredients You'll Need
8 Manicotti (or 12 Jumbo Pasta Shells)
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups milk (1% or 2%)
1 10-oz pkg frozen plain chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained of any liquid
1-1/2 c light ricotta cheese
1-1/2 c small-diced fully cooked lean ham OR
small-diced, cooked chicken breasts
2 tsp. oregano, crushed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh oregano (optional for garnish)
In a large saucepan, cook the manicotti or shells until al dente (not fully soft cooked). Drain liquid.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Mix flour, pepper, salt, and nutmeg together. Add to the melted butter to form a roux.
Add 1/2 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add another 1/2 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add 1 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add remaining milk and stir.
Cook sauce over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat.
For the filling, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, ham (or chicken), and the crushed oregano. Stir in 1/3 cup sauce.
Spoon 1/3-1/2 cup filling into each manicotti tube or pasta shell. Put two tbsp sauce in bottom of rectangular baking dish to prevent sticking. Arrange the pasta in the baking dish. Take 1/2 of the remaining sauce and pour over all of the pasta.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes or until heated through.
Top with Parmesan cheese and return the pan to the oven without the foil top. Bake another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and toasted.
Serve with the remaining sauce (heated up) and garnish with oregano if desired.
Add a nice salad to complete the meal.