Baked Manicotti with Spinach

Ingredients for Sauce

-         2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes

-         2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

-         3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press

Filling and Pasta

-         3 cups cottage cheese

-         4 ounces grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups use less if mixing with nutritional yeast)

-         8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups we use half this much)

-         2 large eggs - lightly beaten

-         1 10-oz package frozen spinach (OR 3 cups fresh spinach/swiss chard, minced into very SMALL pieces)

-         table salt and ground black pepper

-         2 tablespoons fresh basil OR 1/3 cup pesto (we use frozen in the winter)

-         Pinch Nutmeg

-         Pinch cayenne pepper

-         16 no boil lasagna noodles

  1. For the sauce.
    1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining tomatoes
    2. Heat oil, garlic, pepper flakes in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt
  2. For the Filling
    1. Combine ricotta, 1 cup parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, spinach, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, basil, nutmeg, cayenne pepper in medium bowl; set aside
    2. Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9 inch broiler safe baking dish, and then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish
    3. Spread bottom of baking dish with an even layer of 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Using a spoon, spread generous 1/4 cup cheese-spinach mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle. (Start with short side facing you, leaving top quarter exposed) Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.
    4. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling around 40 minutes. Remove foil. Adjust oven rack to upper position and heat broiler. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown.