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Four Cheese Baked Manicotti combines ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, and mozzarella cheeses in a creamy filling that’s piped into manicotti shells before baking.This Four Cheese Baked Manicotti is one of those recipes that we’ve taken far too long to share with all of you – our wonderful readers! My husband Jack has made this classic Italian dish so many times – and it’s the perfect dish to add to a holiday menu, or to serve for Sunday supper.
Tips for making the best Four Cheese Baked Manicotti
- Choose quality cheeses. This Four Cheese Baked Manicotti gets most of its flavor from the cheese filling, so choose whole milk ricotta, aged Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, and whole milk mozzarella cheeses.
- Choose fresh herbs. Fresh basil and parsley in the four-cheese filling will make all of the difference in the world.
- Make a homemade tomato sauce. Our recipe here is easy and VERY delicious, and the flavors of your finished dish will be worth the little bit of extra time it takes to make a homemade sauce.
- Don’t overcook your manicotti shells. Follow the package cooking instructions carefully – typically cooking the manicotti shells no longer than seven minutes. You want the shells to be pliable but sturdy for filling. (Don’t worry, they will cook further in the oven as they bake.)
- Don’t overfill your manicotti shells. If you do, they will burst – either while you are piping in the cheese, or as they bake. Here’s a photo showing Jack’s filling technique.
Can I freeze the leftovers?Yes. While we always think that freshly-made is best, you could freeze the leftovers – then thaw and reheat. Just note that the cheeses may yield some water after being frozen and thawed, but as you reheat (in the microwave works best) the excess water should absorb back in the pasta. You may enjoy these other pasta dishes:
- Meat Lovers Manicotti Stracotto-Style
- Creamy Chicken and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells
- Baked Manicotti with Turkey Sausage
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Spinach Lasagna Rollups
16 dry/uncooked manicotti shells
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1-quart tomato sauce, see here
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the manicotti shells according to package directions, which is usually no more than 7 minutes. They will still be tough and chewy but will bake further once filled. After cooking and rinsing under cold water, keep them wet so they don’t stick to each other.
In a small saute pan over medium heat cook onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft, about 4-5 minutes, then set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese, one cup of the Parmesan cheese, all of the Romano cheese, one cup of the mozzarella cheese, the parsley, basil, oregano, eggs, salt, pepper and the cooled onion and garlic.
Fill a large pastry bag with this filling. (You will need to fill it twice)
16 manicottis will not fit in a 9X13 pan so I split mine between two pans, but if you have one larger casserole pan that will fit all 16, you could use that.
Coat a 9X13 pan with one cup of the sauce and a smaller casserole dish or pan with a half cup of sauce, or coat one larger casserole dish or pan with 1 ½ cups sauce.
Use the pastry bag to fill each manicotti from each end and lay on top of the sauce.
Divide about two cups of sauce over the 16 manicottis.
Sprinkle on the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese as well as the two cups of mozzarella cheese, again dividing between one or two pans.
Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes until they are hot and bubbly and the tops begin to brown.
Serve immediately with the extra sauce spooned over each portion, two manicotti per portion.
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*This recipe could easily be cut in half to make 8 manicotti which would serve 4 people.