This recipe can be adapted for wheat pasta or gluten free pasta as well as light dairy. Versatile is always a plus when dealing with a recipe :-)
2 packages manicottie noodles
1 lb of your favorite meat (I used a roll of breakfast sausage)
2lbs cottage cheese (I use 1 and a half of the 24oz containers)
1 egg (can be omitted for allergies)
Basic red sauce using crushed tomato for marinara
4 cups shredded mozzarella (can use less, but we love cheese)
I set the stock pot to boil for the noodles while I whip up the red sauce first and then the stuffing. You won't want these to fully soften because they will stick together and break apart when stuffing :-( It works best if they are still pretty stiff.
I don't add salt to my water because we have a water softener. The red sauce is made over a very low heat and can be left alone with a lid on the pot for the thorough heating.
For the stuffing I brown the sausage (you could add onion to this process if you wanted) and while that is browning, I place the rest of the stuffing mix into a bowl. Once the sausage has been drained, I toss that in.
When the noodles are still sort of firm, I rinse them in cold water, then let them rest in cold water while we are stuffing. This prevents the noodles from clumping and sticking.
I have the kids help me with the stuffing. Everyone gets a spoon and we shovel the stuffing into the manicotti.
We pile these stuffed manicotti noodles into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish.
I pour the red sauce over the noodles and then layer on the cheese.
This dish goes into a preheated oven of 375* for around 45 minutes till the cheese looks the way you want it too. For me, the cheese is browned at the edges and the juices are bubbling around the edges :-)
This can be considered a cheap meal depending on the meat and cheese options.