Ingredients for the manicotti:

4 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 pound ground beefSalt and freshly ground black pepper

14 (8-ounce package) manicotti

1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta

3 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups homemade marinara sauce or store bought.

You can also add 1 defrosted box of spinach 

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce:

2 tablespoons butter.

2 tablespoons flour.

1 1/4 cups milk, heated.

1 bag Italian five cheeseSaltFreshly ground pepper.

Directions for manicotti:

Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.

Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 cups of the bechamel and marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon both the remaining sauces over.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve. Enjoy!

3 tbsp unsalted butter 2 tbsp flour 1/2 tsp salt 2 cups milk 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the cheese and remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

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