Stuff uncooked manicotti then sit back and let your slow cooker do the work. There’s no boiling required for this super easy Italian family meal.
I’ve been staring at the box of manicotti shells in my cupboard for 3 months now. If you follow me on Instagram stories then you know that I actually made this several weeks ago. I wanted to do another test run before sharing the recipe here. After doing round two I realized that it probably wasn’t necessary. This is one of those recipes that you have a lot of free will with in terms of ingredients. Outside of the base ingredients I encourage you to create your stuffing around what you like.
The meat needs to be browned first. This is an important step because you’ll want to drain the grease from the meat before you use it. You’ll need to use enough marinara sauce to completely cover the manicotti shells. This ensures that they cook completely through since they’re going in uncooked. I used my new favorite new 3.5-quart Crock-Pot Casserole Crock Slow Cooker but you do not need a casserole-specific slow cooker for this recipe. ANY 5-6 quart slow cooker will work just fine. For my stuffing I kept it simple: ground turkey, kale, cheese, garlic and Italian seasoning. I have to admit this wasn’t really on purpose. Long story short at the time I was without a car and very bitter about it. Onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, sausage…there are so many other ingredients you can add. Now do you see what I mean when I said you have a lot of free will? You can seriously make this 5 times and have it be different every single time.
I didn’t use a ton of cheese inside the stuffing. I also used a combination of low-fat cottage cheese and mozzarella. Ricotta and Parmesan are other good cheeses to use. Of course when it comes to the ground meat you can use ground turkey, beef, chicken or pork. Heck if you want to make this a vegetarian dish and leave the meat out all together.
- 1 lb ground meat
- 8 ounces manicotti shells, UNCOOKED
- 1 cup kale, chopped
- 56 ounces marinara sauce (or more)
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Brown ground meat in skillet over medium heat. Drain grease and let cool.
- In a large bowl mix together browned ground meat, chopped kale, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoning.
- Add mixture to a large plastic bag and close. Cut the top off the bottom of the plastic bag.
- Squeeze mixture into manicotti shell until full. Repeat until all the shells are stuffed.
- Pour a couple of tablespoons of marinara sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the stuffed manicotti shells on top. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells until all she shells are covered.
- Cook HIGH 2-3 hours or LOW 4-6.
- Add remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top the last 30 minutes of cooking.