Chicken & Spinach Manicotti with Tomato Cream Sauce


Long ago, Olive Garden used to have this richly flavored dish on their menu. It was my mom’s favorite thing to get, which is odd as she wasn’t a super huge fan or spinach or chicken. Later as they changed their menu, they dropped this and so I took it on myself to re-create it so I could make it for her one year on Mother’s Day.

Really, it sounds a lot more difficult than it is. Add shredded chicken (either roasted and hand shredded, or canned–I used canned) and frozen spinach to a typical manicotti filling of ricotta & mozzarella cheese, stuff the manicotti shells and top with a sauce of half tomato and half alfredo cream. Done! It is rich, tasty and easy (although it does take a little time), and great for a special night when you want to make something nice or are just in the mood for something incredible.

Ingredients:

1 box manicotti noodles, cooked about 5 minutes
1 small tub ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c grated parmesan
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 can shredded chicken, drained
3/4 c. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 Tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp each salt & pepper
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 jar marinara sauce

Directions:

Boil the manicotti noodles for half the regular cooking time. You want them parboiled at best, they will finish in the sauce when you bake it. Drain, toss in 1 tbsp olive oil (so they don’t stick together) and set aside.

Mix your marinara & alfredo sauces in a bowl, and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella & parmesan with the garlic, chicken, spinach, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stuff cheese mixture into the manicotti tubes and set in a baking dish. When all of the tubes have been filled, cover with the sauce mixture, top with shredded mozzarella or parmesan (if desired). Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes until the sauce is hot and bubbly and the cheese has melted.

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