Take out Tuesday, Ham, Mushroom & Spinach Manicotti

My love of cooking really isn’t about food but about creativity.  Cooking is the ultimate creative endeavor for me.  Taking ingredients and combining them in a unique way to create a flavorful dish, feeding the eyes and the spirit as well as the body, and doing it for your family and friends.  Doesn’t get any better than that for me.
For “take out tuesday” this week  I am going to make Spinach Cannelloni with ham and mushrooms. I know Hungry Husband Jr. will love this and it’s not a dish he is likely to make for himself. He is a fabulous cook, and cooks just about every night so on Tuesdays I like to give him the night off. Yoga Girl will like it too because its loaded with vegetables.  I will make a deconstructed version for Super Boy, and New Baby is still on the milk diet.
I am warning you right now, I don’t really have a recipe, just a direction, so things might change along the way!

Gather ingredients

I’m having fun already!  I like to get the sauce going first

Melt butter in a large sauce pan and add the flour


Cook and stir for about a minute, this eliminates the raw flour taste, then pour in the milk slowly

If it starts to bubble, lower the heat and stir it every few minutes

Add seasonings

At this point I am wondering if I have made enough sauce for 2 casseroles, hmmm….

I can either make another batch of sauce, or I can ADD to it!

So I threw in a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, I know what you purists are saying, “really, Cream of Mushroom soup?” yes, really Cream of Mushroom soup.  Then 1 1/2 cans milk, and 1/2 can Sherry cooking wine.  I stirred it all together and let it simmer over very low heat while I prepped the meat.  Cut the ham into strips and toss it in a skillet with a dash of Olive oil and cook over medium high heat.

After ham has browned a little, remove from skillet and set aside

Toss mushrooms into hot skillet and drizzle with a little more Olive oil

After mushrooms have started to brown add the onion

Turn out the cooked onions and mushrooms onto a cutting board and mix in the ham strips.  Give the whole pile a quick chop.

I purposely sauteed the ham & vegetables in bigger pieces for ease of cooking but they need to be a little smaller for the manicotti filling, and it makes life much easier to do a little chopping at this point.

Since the skillet is still warm and seasoned, I toss in a chicken breast for Super Boy and give it a quick saute.  Chicken is great in this recipe too, you can do part chicken and part ham or all chicken.

Time to make the filling.  Cook & drain the spinach and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze getting it as dry as possible. I saved some plain spinach to make SB a little version of creamed spinach for a side dish.


I just drizzled in a little white sauce and topped it with mozzarella shreds, when Dad microwaves it it will be creamy and cheesy.  I wonder if he’ll eat it……..

Put the spinach in a large mixing bowl and add Parmesan, Mozzarella and Cottage Cheese.  Season and mix.


Add ham, mushroom and onions and gently combine to blend evenly.

OK, filling done!

While you’re making the filling you can put the manicotti noodles on to boil.

This recipe is so versatile you can use anything you want.  You can make it like a lasagna, layering it with lasagna noodles, you can use crepes or flour tortillas and roll up the filling enchilada style, or you can make it with penne or ziti pasta and toss it all together in a casserole.  GO WILD! Create a masterpiece!

I am going with traditional manicotti noodles here.

TIP:  the secret to manicotti is to under cook it.  If the pasta is fully cooked it is impossible to fill it because the noodles will tear and you will cry in frustration.  Bring your water to a boil, add the manicotti, making sure it is all submerged, and cover. Turn burner off and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Time to assemble this delicious creation!

Make an assembly line

Add about 1/3 cup sauce to filling just to moisten it.

Put just enough sauce in the bottom of baking dish to cover.

Grab a cannelloni and start stuffing!  This goes quicker than you’d think but go ahead and sit down and turn on the TV. I use my fingers to stuff in the filling, putting some in each end until it meets in the middle. Then lay the filled cannelloni on the bed of luscious sauce until the pan is full.

I ended up with exactly the right amount for both pans, I just love that when that happens.

Cover filled cannelloni with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheeses and cover until baking


This will hold for 1-2 days in fridge, so its perfect to prep ahead for a dinner party or special meal.  Bake at 325 about 45 minutes until it is golden and bubbly.

Here’s the recipe:

HAM, SPINACH & MUSHROOM MANICOTTI   for a printable version click here

this will make 2 casseroles 6-8 servings each

2 boxes manicotti noodles

8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms

1 pkg chopped frozen spinach

1 medium onion chopped

8 oz ham, cut into thin ribbons

1 stick butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

*1 can Cream of Mushroom soup [optional, see note on photo above]

*Sherry cooking wine [optional, see note on photo above]

12 oz cottage cheese

4 oz Parmesan cheese

S & P

1 tsp minced garlic

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and stir in flour.  Cook 1-2 minutes.  Slowly add milk, stir well and stir again every few minutes. In about 10 minutes mixture will be smooth and thick.  Season and add more milk, Mushroom Soup or Sherry to taste.  Set sauce aside.

Saute ham, in a large skillet, with a dash of Olive oil over medium high heat until just starting to brown.  Remove to cutting board and add mushrooms to skillet with another dash of Olive oil.  When mushrooms are starting to brown add onion and cook until translucent.  Remove vegetables to cutting board and give everything a rough chop.

Make filling by combining spinach, cottage cheese, 1/2 of Parmesan cheese and season to taste.  Add ham and vegetables and about 1/3 cup of sauce.

Boil manicotti until slightly underdone, drain.

Put enough sauce in the bottom of prepared casserole dishes to cover.  Assemble manicotti by stuffing with your fingers or using a small spoon.  Lay the stuffed pasta on top of sauce in pan, closely together.  Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake at 325 for about an hour if cold.  If this dish is going straight to the oven start checking it after  30 minutes, it is done when it is bubbling and golden.

Comments
One Response to “Take out Tuesday, Ham, Mushroom & Spinach Manicotti”
  1. lulu says:

    Oh yum! Cannelloni is one of my favorite dishes, and I love the combination of ingredients in yours.

    Like

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