This homemade manicotti recipe is fantastic! Learn how to make manicotti crepes (crespelle) from scratch and stuff them with four cheeses and spinach. Note, you'll need marinara sauce ready to use before you start.
¼cupfreshly grated Parmesan cheese(plus extra for serving)
Manicotti Crepes (Crespelle)
For the crepe batter, add the eggs and water to a large mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer on low, just until combined.
Add the flour and salt, and beat on low until the batter is smooth, with no lumps. Let the batter rest for 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator. This will help provide a better texture for your crepes. (You can make the cheese filling during this time.)
After the batter has rested for at least 30 minutes, it’s time to make the crepes. Lightly grease a 7-inch pan by spraying some oil on a paper towel and wiping your pan with it. (If you have two pans of this size, you can use both.) Heat the pan on the stove over medium heat.
Scoop out ¼ cup of batter into a liquid measuring cup, and when your pan is hot, pour the ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan. Gently swirl the pan, if needed, until the bottom is fully covered with the batter. Cook the crepe just until the top is set, which should take 1-2 minutes. Do not flip the crepe. Slide the crepe out of the pan and onto a cooling rack.
Continue cooking the rest of your crepes (there should be at least 12 total.) When you run out of space on your cooling racks, you can transfer the cooled crepes to a plate, stacking them with a sheet of wax paper between each one.
Manicotti Filling (enough for 12 crepes)
Thaw the frozen spinach in the microwave. Heat it one minute at a time, until it’s thawed. Drain the spinach in a fine-mesh strainer and let it sit while you make the rest of the filling.
Add the ricotta to a medium bowl. Shred the mozzarella. (You can use a food processor or blender.) Add the mozzarella to the ricotta.
Grate the Parmesan and Romano, if needed. (I grate chunks of cheese in my blender.) Add the grated Parmesan and Romano to your bowl, along with the black pepper.
Squeeze the spinach dry and add it to the bowl of cheese filling. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the filling until your crepes are ready to be filled.
Assemble & Bake the Manicotti
When the crepes are cooked and cooled off, you can assemble the manicotti. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 10x15 baking pan (or two 9x13 pans) with cooking spray. Add a layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of your baking pan(s).
On a cutting board or clean work surface, place a crepe with the browned side facing up. (This is so the yellow side will show when you roll it up.) Place ⅓ cup of ricotta filling in the center of the crepe, pressing it down gently until there is a 1-inch border of crepe around it. Roll the crepe tightly into a cylinder and place it seam-side down in your baking pan.
Continue filling and rolling the crepes (there should be 12), arranging them in a single layer in your baking pan(s). If you find you have extra crepes, you can save them to enjoy with sauce or fill them with any extra spinach and cheese and add them to your baking pan. Ladle some sauce over the manicotti, until they are all covered. Sprinkle three tablespoons of Parmesan over the top.
Cover your pan(s) with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the manicotti are hot. Serve the manicotti with extra sauce and Parmesan.
Store leftover manicotti in the refrigerator for up to five days. See notes for freezing and make-ahead instructions.
Sauce: Make sure you have six cups of tomato sauce ready for the manicotti. You can make two batches of my Homemade Marinara Sauce or a batch of my Italian Meat Sauce with Country Ribs and have some left over.The nutritional information does not include the tomato sauce.To Make the Crepes Ahead of Time:Cook the crepes, let them cool, then stack them with a layer of wax paper between each one. You can cover and refrigerate the crepes, then use them within a couple days. You also can freeze the crepes in a freezer bag. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and proceed to assemble your manicotti.How to Freeze ManicottiIt's best to freeze stuffed manicotti without baking them first. Top them with sauce and Parmesan, then cover your pan with a double layer of foil and freeze.How to Bake Frozen ManicottiYou can bake frozen manicotti without thawing them first. Bake at 350 degrees F, covered, for 45 minutes.