Do you want to make a casserole without a bowl, a spoon or a pot?
Then this is the casserole for you. I make this often and double to have extra in my freezer to give away to a friend in need, or for a busy weeknight meal.
You DO NOT cook the manicotti prior to filling and freezing, and that’s what makes this recipe so easy. The other easy part is the method to mix the filling ingredients. You mix the filling in a freezer bag by kneading it.
No Boil Freezer 3 Cheese Manicotti
Yield – 2 8×8 or 1 9×13 pan (about 8 -10 servings)
Preparation Time – 25 minutes
Cooking Time – 60 minutes
Filling Ingredients (gallon bag)
- 24 oz cottage cheese
- 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
- Add: 1 ½ teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 – 8oz. package manicotti
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Jar or can of favorite marinara sauce (I use the $1 can Hunts marinara or homemade)
- cooking spray
- Add about 1/2 of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan(s).
- Dump all the filling ingredients into a gallon size FREEZER bag and gently knead until it is mixed up.
- Cut a small corner of the bag; about 1/2″. You want the filling to flow easily through the opening, but you don’t want it to pour out too quickly. Don’t cut it too small because there will be too much pressure and the bag could burst. Once you do it a couple of times, you will get the feel of piping cheese into the shells.
- I fill one side horizontally and then turn the shell and fill the other.
- Fill all the shells dividing between two 8×8 pans or one 9×13.
- Cover all the shells with the marinara sauce. I use Hunts when I don’t have time to crock pot marinara on hand.
- Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
- Spray the foil that will touch the food with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to the cheese.
- Cover the pans with heavy duty foil labeled with thawing and cooking instructions. This is the most important part when you’re giving a casserole away. It’s handy for people to have the instructions right at their fingertips:
- Thaw for 24 hours if frozen. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour covered with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Shells are $1.50 at Wal-mart and the sauce is $1. Cheese prices range. I leave out the Parmesan cheese sometimes and it’s still great. You can substitute ricotta, but try the cottage cheese. It makes a terrific ministry meal to give away to someone in need and it’s easy because there’s “no cooking” involved. P.S. Your family is a ministry too, so be sure to double this recipe to have enough for dinner and others in need.
Jackie Brown is a mom of four freezer cooking for her family while opening her arms to the poor and needy. She teaches and blogs at Mom on a Mission six days a week. Her posts include freezer cooking tutorials, whole foods coupons, recipes, weekly menus, 15-minute recipes using freezer items and mission opportunities.