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Spinach and Ricotta Eggplant Manicotti

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Delicious Make-Ahead Dinner Dish

Impressive make-ahead dinner dish using eggplant

I love a good plate of cannelloni and a well prepared parmigiana, and since both are prep-heavy, I thought I’d do something different and combine the two nightshade vegetable laden dishes into one, by morphing ricotta and spinach manicotti with a parmigiana. I simply rolled my eggplant slices around the tubes of pasta – and voila, the new and improved parmigiana manicotti! Looked good and tasted even better, mission accomplished! Couple of pointers: I make my own sugo (marinara sauce) and prefer the taste of fried eggplant over roasted eggplant in my parmigiana, but really any marinara sauce of choice will do and roasting the eggplants will impart the same flavor and even be slightly healthier than frying. Either way (and even if you salt them overnight like I’m used to doing) they’ll still soak up a LOT of oil like the greedy sponges they are. Also, you must pre-cook the tubes of pasta for 5 minutes (especially if you-re using the harder manicotti tubes instead of cannelloni) because no matter how much sugo you put on them, they tend to stay uncooked in areas.


Spinach and Ricotta Eggplant Manicotti

Prep: Medium

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Serves 6-8


Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (226g) box manicotti or cannelloni pasta (might have a couple unused tubes)

  • 450 g of organic baby spinach chopped (or half of that if you like less spinach)

  • 2 medium sized eggplants sliced lengthwise (around 5-7 slices each eggplant)

  • 1 onion minced

  • 3 tablespoons EVOO

  • 6 garlic cloves pressed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

  • Pinch chili flakes

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped fine

  • 1 tablespoons pesto sauce

  • 2 quarts good quality marinara sauce

  • 1 lemon rind grated fine

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta

  • 1 egg slightly beaten

  • ½ cup breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup grated parmesan (reserve some to sprinkle on top of the marinara sauce)

  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella



How To:

In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the manicotti for 5 minutes and drain. Run cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside. In a frying pan, shallow fry the eggplant slices in vegetable oil until golden brown on each side. Drain excess oil on paper towels and set aside. In a pan, sauté the onion, spices and herbs for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the spinach and garlic and sauté until the juice from the spinach runs dry. Let the spinach cool down. In a bowl combine the ricotta, egg, pesto, breadcrumbs, cheeses and lemon. Add the spinach and mix lightly with a spoon. Cover the ricotta spinach mixture and put in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Heat the oven to 350. In a baking dish, spread enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom. Spoon (or use a disposable decorator bag) the spinach ricotta filling into each tube and roll a piece of eggplant with the “seam” side down. Fill the dish with two rows of the stuffed tubes and cover with the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan and cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or till the tubes are cooked when poked with a fork or knife.



Eggplant spinach ricotta manicotti - A happy union between an eggplant parmigiana and stuffed manicotti



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