While this might be a little ambitious for a weeknight, because filling the manicotti shells is a bit time consuming – it is still doable. This twist on the classic Italian favorite comes out so good with the silky homemade alfredo and the cheese and sausage filling. Be careful though – because your family is definitely going to ask you to make this Alfredo Manicotti again!
For the filling, I used half hot Italian Sausage and half sweet Italian sausage. I like using both so you get a better depth of flavor. Any combination of Italian sausage will work, just as long as it is the ground type not in casings. If you can only find the type in casings, remove the meat from the casings before cooking. I used ricotta cheese but you could also use cottage cheese, if you prefer.
You will want to a mental (or literal) snapshot of how you have arranged the filled pasta tubes in the 13×9 baking dish. This will make sure that you can serve up unbroken manicotti. This is a great make-ahead meal as well. You might want to assemble the dish in disposable 13×9 baking dishes so that you can freeze them easily. Prepare the dish up to the point of baking. Allow to cool to room temperature before wrapping with cling wrap and then foil.
This pasta dish is incredible hearty. While the family may have seconds, it’s not likely that side dishes are needed. But you might want some nice Italian bread to sop up the extra alfredo, because it’s that good! As with so many heavy Italian, a great balancing side dish would also be a salad – possibly Caesar.
Now Let’s Get Cookin’!
- 1½ lb Manicotti Shells
- 2 lb Italian Sausage
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 16 oz Ricotta Cheese
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese shredded, divided
- 1 tsp Parsley
For the Alfredo
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 4 tbsp Flour
- 2 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 2 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
- Prepare all of the ingredients. Preheat oven to 400deg.
- In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add sausage. Cook and crumble until no longer pink.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, and garlic powder. Once melted, whisk in flour. Cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in chicken broth. Cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in heavy cream. Add parmesan, whisk and cook until fully melted. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Italian sausage, garlic, and 1 cup of mozzarella.
- Pour thin layer of sauce into bottom of 13×9 baking dish. Use a teaspoon to push the filling into each pasta tube. Line up in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over top of filled pasta tubes. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parsley. Place in oven for 30 minutes.
Estelle Forrest’s self-published first cookbook – Homemade on a Weeknight: A Family Cookbook – was created after a lot of playing around in the kitchen. You can purchase your own copy here:
Estelle self-published a second cookbook – Burgers on a Weeknight – recently. It has over 60 delicious burger creations! You can purchase your own copy here:
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