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Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce Recipe

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Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used ground sirloin)
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 package deli style thinly sliced pepperoni (chopped)
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes (28 ounces each)

Manicotti

  • 16 no-boil lasagna noodles (about 1 box) I used Barilla Oven Ready Lasagna noodles.
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cup shredded Italian Blend cheese
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Boiled water (enough to cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish about 1 inch deep)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large skillet or sauté pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray, cook onion, burger, and pepperoni, breaking up the mixture as it cooks until burger is no longer pink inside. Set aside 1 cup of the meat mixture onto a plate covered with paper toweling to absorb any excess fat; drain excess fat from skillet if needed. Stir in the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and garlic; continue cooking until fragrant. (About 30 seconds) add the crushed tomatoes and continue cooking until mixture starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. While sauce is cooking in a large bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, 1 cup reserved meat mixture, mozzarella, 1 cup Italian blend, salt, pepper, basil, and egg.
  4. Pour about 1 inch of boiling water into the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish and arrange the noodles in the water. Let the noodles soak for about 5 minutes or until they become soft enough to handle. Remove the noodles from the water onto a clean dish towel separating them with a fork if needed; drain the water from the casserole dish. Pour ½ the meat mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish.
  5. Spread ¼ cup cheese mixture over each noodle, roll the noodle and place them seam side down into the casserole dish. (it will hold 16 placed side by side) pour the remaining sauce over the noodles, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes or until heat through, and bubbly.
  6. Remove the foil and sprinkle the rest of the Italian blend cheese over the top, return the casserole to the oven and continue baking until cheese is melted.
  7. Let rest for 15 minutes and serve hot.