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Four-Cheese Spinach Manicotti with Sherry Bechamel Sauce

Serves 6 to 8

This creamy, rich manicotti recipe is definitely not for the calorie or health conscious eater, but what a treat for an occasional indulgence. Serve for a family dinner, special occasion or casual entertaining.


   Manicotti and Filling    Sauce   Additional Ingredients

Cook manicotti in lightly salted boiling water according to package directions for al dente; drain, cool and set aside. Place the ricotta cheese, spinach, and egg in a medium bowl. Mix well. Add the cheeses, garlic, salt and pepper; mix until well combined. Set aside.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well to combine. Let cook about 2 minutes but do not allow it to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add the sherry and stir another minute. Gradually add the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring or whisking vigorously after each addition until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often, until the sauce comes just to a boil and is thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread enough sauce into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking oil spray to cover the bottom, about 1 cup. Stuff the manicotti with the cheese and spinach mixture and place in a single layer on top of the sauce. Top with the remaining sauce, making sure all the pasta is covered. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let set 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: The provolone cheese adds a nice sharpness but can be replaced with additional mozzarella. If you prefer not to use the sherry, eliminate it and substitute an additional 1/2 cup milk. This casserole can be assembled, covered and refrigerated or frozen before baking. If frozen, bake, covered, until hot, about 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until bubbly.