This meal pairs nicely with a red table wine. Coppola Vineyards makes a really nice table red called Rosso. The blend changes every year, but we find it is always very well balanced. Plus, it is very affordable (under $10 at most places).
What you'll need:
-6 manicotti tubular pasta
-1/3 lb. ground chicken
-2/3 cup small curd cottage cheese (it makes the meal a little creamier than the traditional ricotta cheese)
-1/4 cup grated parmesan-reggiano
-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 white onion, diced
-3 big handfuls of uncooked spinach (about 3 cups uncooked)
-2 tsp. pepper
-1 tsp. salt
-3 sprigs fresh oregano, minced
-1/2 bottle of your favorite tomato basil pasta sauce (about 4 oz.) --
-1 tsp. dried parsley
What to do:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a splash of olive oil now to prevent the pasta from sticking later. Boil the pasta for about 8 minutes -- it should be slightly uncooked since the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
In a frying pan heat enough olive oil to thinly cover the bottom. Add the chicken and cook over medium heat until crumbled. Dab excess fat off cooked meat with a paper towel.
Coast a second frying pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until the onion starts to turn translucent (about 4 min). Turn the heat to low, add the spinach and cover to allow the spinach to steam. Stir after 1 minute and continue to cover and stir every 30 seconds or so until the spinach has completely wilted.
Mix the cottage cheese, parmesan-reggiano, salt, pepper, oregano, chicken and spinach mixture in a medium bowl. Stuff the pasta with the filling mixture.
After spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 5' x 9' loaf pan, line up the stuffed manicotti. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and parsley on top. Bake for at least 25 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly and browning.