I had so much fun creating this! (And we had even more fun devouring it!) I was quite happy with how this turned out! And it was one of those dishes that you’re very sad to see all gone!!
I’ve always thought that “penne” pasta looked like little mini “manicotti shells”, so I thought to come up with an easy supper of manicotti without all of the fuss made right on top of the stove!
(Some of the ingredients that I started with….)
I wasn’t sure of how the noodles would do, but it actually worked out extremely well. There was just enough liquid to cook them, and yet ended up nice and thick just how I wanted.
So I started with a 50/50 mix of extra-lean ground beef and Italian sausage, my favorite! I sautéed the meats in a little butter due to using only a semi non-stick stainless steel pan, and added some chopped shallots! 😀
When that was done, I drained what little grease there was, added my liquids, along with some squeeze-dried chopped spinach, a little heavy cream, and some wonderful carrot and tomato-flavored vegetable penne pasta!
I put the lid on and let it simmer until the pasta was nicely al dente. You do have to stir this occasionally, but no biggie. Just make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom is all. Do check on it periodically, and frequently towards the end as it cooks down and thickens.
Once the pasta was done, I decided that I wanted to finish this in the oven. So I got the oven going while I mixed up the ricotta mixture.
I dropped it by large spoonfuls, then topped it with our favorite blend of mozzarella and provolone cheese! I like to then sprinkle just a little Italian seasoning on top for extra flavor and tiny bit of color.
I then just popped it into the oven to bake the filling and melt the cheese!
Lastly, I kicked the heat up to broil to give the cheese a little touch of golden browning! 😉
This could not have worked out more beautifully!
And the taste?
Let’s just say….WOWzers! 😀
It did actually taste just like a nice, meaty, cheesy manicotti! Without the tedious job of having to stuff all of those shells! 😉
And the noodles are excellent! They’re made by Barilla and you might want to check them out! They’re “Veggie” and have tomato and carrot in them! 😀
I was actually lucky to get in one quick shot plated! This stuff was disappearing quickly!
I’m so relieved and thrilled that this worked out as easily and beautifully as it did! The noodles have so much more flavor this way, versus drowning them in a pot of plain boiling water. And it really doesn’t take long nor is it difficult to make, either.
Hope you enjoy this wonderful summertime-anytime supper!
*This post is not a paid endorsement. These are just my personal opinions of products that work well for me, and that I enjoy using.
- 1 Tbl. butter
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- ½ lb. extra-lean ground beef
- ½ lb. ground Italian sausage
- ¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- 1½ tsp. Better Than Bouillon Beef Base dissolved in 1¾ cups hot water
- 1 (24 oz.) jar Barilla Tomato & Basil pasta sauce
- ½ of a 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 (12 oz.) box penne pasta, I used Barilla's Veggie Penne (Tomato & Carrot)
- For Ricotta Topping:
- 1½ cups ricotta cheese
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, fresh or canned
- ½ tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 1 beaten egg
- To Finish:
- 1 cup (packed) Sargento Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese (Traditional Cut)
- ½ tsp. dried Italian Seasoning
- fresh basil leaves to garnish
- In large, deep, oven-safe frying pan with tight-fitting lid, melt butter and add shallot, ground beef, sausage and pepper. Sauté, chopping up as you go, until done. Spoon out grease.
- Stir in beef bouillon, pasta sauce, spinach, heavy cream, and penne pasta.
- Place on lid, bring to a boil, lower heat to Low (to a simmer) and simmer until pasta is done and mixture is thick, stirring as needed so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. About 30 - 35 minutes depending on what kind of pasta you're using.
- While pasta/meat mixture is cooking, preheat oven to 350º.
- When pasta is tender, (taste to see), mix ricotta topping in medium bowl, drop by large spoonfuls on top.
- Sprinkle top with mozzarella-provolone blend, and sprinkle lightly with Italian seasoning.
- Pop into the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Raise heat to broil and broil 1 minute for light browning of cheese. (Watch carefully so that it doesn't get overdone.)
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves, and serve with more grated parmesan cheese at the table if desired.
- Goes nicely with a tossed garden salad and toasted garlic bread.
**Other ingredients to add can be diced bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, or black or green olives.