This dish isn't one I'd serve at a dinner party, but it's a good weeknight meal that couldn't be easier.
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (16 oz) carton fat-free cottage cheese (or low-fat, if you can't find fat-free)
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 (8 oz) package manicotti (14 shells)
1 (26 oz) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce (or whatever sauce you like)
1 cup water
Pre-heat oven to 375. Spray 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large zip-lock bag, combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella (reserving 1/2 cup of the 2 cups), cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Seal the top and mush it around to combine the ingredients.
Pour half the sauce into the bottom of the pan.
Snip of one corner of the bag (not too big a hole), and use the bag like a pastry bag to fill the manicotti. Place them in a single layer over the sauce in the baking dish. You will have exactly enough filling for 14 manicotti, so don't worry about running out.
Top with remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into the dish (I like to pour mine into the sauce jar and shake it around first to get all of the sauce out). Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour (or until shells are tender). Let stand 10 minutes before serving (I suggest leaving it covered for 10 minutes, perhaps while your garlic bread toasts, and then uncovering it for another 5-10).
The shells can be a little "al dente" sometimes, but considering that this is the easiest version of Manicotti I've ever seen, who cares? Plus little geeks can help you squish the ingredients in the ziplock, and older little geeks might even like to try filling the shells.
I also like that you put it in the oven and walk away. I use this time to clean my kitchen, usually, but you could do something more fun if you're more creative than me.
Just remember that it takes an hour to bake (plus another 10-15 minutes of "resting") and plan accordingly!
from Cooking Light