Deconstructed Zucchini Manicotti
This manicotti skillet was born of necessity. I was desperately craving manicotti, but I didn’t want to buy all of the ingredients and have a ton of leftovers. So I made a skillet version just for my fiance, Lu, and me: two mounds of manicotti filling nestled in zucchini noodles, easy for sharing. The zucchini noodles make the dish much lighter, fresher, and frankly, more fun to eat. Without the starchy pasta you more appreciate the decadent filling, which is where most of the flavor is anyway.
- For the sauce
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, no salt added
- Salt and pepper
- 5 basil leaves, chopped
- For the filling
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 scant cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 small egg
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 2 zucchini, spiralized with BLADE A
- 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. After 5 minutes, add the basil. Continue to simmer the sauce for 5 minutes more or until it is thickened.
- Make the filling. Combine the cheeses and egg in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. When some water flicked onto the skillet sizzles, add the spinach and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and fold into the cheese mixture.
- Assemble the manicotti. Reserve half the sauce and spread the remaining evenly on the bottom of the skillet. Place the zucchini noodles on top, then add the remaining sauce. Create two wells in the noodles and add the cheese filling. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the skillet and season with pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the noodles have softened and the cheese is melted. Serve hot. If you want to make this skillet dish into a true casserole, double or triple the recipe to make either four or six pockets for the filling.