Italian Sausage and Cheese Manicotti

Ingredients:

  • 10 uncooked manicotti shells
  • 8 ounces mild Italian sausage (I use Graziano’s)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 cups fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cups meatless marinara sauce (I used my homemade recipe)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Cook manicotti according to package directions. Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a nonstick skillet; add the red pepper and onion. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain. Drain manicotti; set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine the sausage mixture, egg whites, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, fennel and pepper. Stuff into manicotti shells. Combine spaghetti sauce and water; spread 1/2 cup in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Arrange shells over sauce; top with remaining sauce.
  • Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Stuffing the manicotti shells can be somewhat of a challenge.  I used my husband, he used a spoon, it tore up all the shells.  Soooooo, I would recommend using a cookie shooter.  I definately will the next time we make this!

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