1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small pieces (see hint below)
1 cup each grated carrots, grated zucchini, and finely chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons minced, fresh basil, or 1-1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon minced, fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 manicotti shells, uncooked
2 cups tomato-based pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz.)
Chopped, fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
To make filling, spray a large, non-stick skillet with non-stick spray. Add garlic and onions. Cook and stir over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
Add chicken, increase heat to medium high, and cook until no longer pink. Add carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook for 3 more minutes
Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in ricotta and parmesan cheeses. Transfer filling to a large bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
While filling is chilling, cook manicotti according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
Using a teaspoon, stuff shells equally with filing. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce over bottom of 2 baking dishes. Arrange 6 stuffed manicotti in each dish. Pour remaining sauce over manicotti and sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Hint: Chicken is easier to cut into small pieces if it’s partially frozen.