2 28 ounce cans of peeled, whole plum tomatoes (use San Marzano with basil, if you can)
8-10 TB butter
1 ½ medium onions, peeled and cut in half
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1 TB butter
½ lb fresh (or frozen) spinach
1 TB olive oil
½ large onion, diced
1 minced garlic clove
1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
1 ½ cups Ricotta
½-3/4 cup Parmesan, grated, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
Salt & pepper
1 gallon size Ziploc bag
1 box Manicotti shells
How to make it
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First, start making your sauce. Put the canned tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt (to taste), and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta.
Meanwhile, get water ready to boil manicotti. Cook until al dente, drain and set aside.
Melt butter in a large sauté pan, add spinach and sauté until spinach is completely wilted. Set on a plate to cool.
Add olive oil and onions to pan, sauté until onions are translucent. Add sausage, breaking into bite size pieces as it browns. Place on a plate with paper towels to soak up the grease and set aside to cool, slightly.
Chop cooled spinach into bite size pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Add Ricotta, Parmesan, 1/ 2 mozzarella cheese, sausage, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Place mixture into a gallon size Ziploc bag, seal, and make a diagonal cut in one of the bottom corners.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish, lightly cover the bottom with sauce. Then, fill the manicotti, squeezing the filling out of the bag into each side of the shell and place in the baking dish. It is ok to fit them in the dish tightly. Once they are all filled, cover the top with the remaining sauce. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Best with a glass of Red Wine and fresh garlic bread.....