Heidi's Italian Sausage Manicotti

We had this for January birthday's at my daughter's house and it was delish and I thought it was very blog worthy.  The italian sausage really makes the dish complete.  It was really not as time consuming as I thought it would be and truly well worth the time it did take.  I guess I could have taken a picture of hers but then I wouldn't get to eat it again so soon.  This is definitely comfort food  for this time of year and would also be great for the Super Bowl if you are serving more than just snacks. 


1 - 8 oz. pkg. manicotti
1 3/4 cups (15 oz. container) part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh parsley (O.K., if you don't want to buy fresh you can use dried.)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
24 oz. jar Prego traditional spagetti sauce
1/ lb. mild italian sausage
1 t. italian seasoning.
1/4 cup red wine (I used merlot)
1 additional cup mozzarella cheese for sprinkling on top before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

You'll want to cook the manicotti shells first so they can cool before you stuff them.  Bring water to a boil and add some salt and the manicotti shells. Boil for 7 minutes. Drain, then lay on foil to cool.

Break apart and brown the italian sausage until completely cooked thru.  Add the wine and simmer off the alcohol for 10 minutes then add the Prego and italian seasoning and simmer on very low while you stuff the shells.

Mix ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses in bowl and add parsley and salt and pepper.  Fill the shells.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 13X9 baking dish, arrange cheese filled pasta in a single layer over sauce.  Pour remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  You can take the foil off a little early to brown the top if you wish.

If you want to make it ahead you can prepare the recipe as directed, but do not bake.  Cover with plastic wrap, then foil.  Refrigerate up to 24 hrs.  When ready to bake remove plastic wrap and foil;  replace foil and bake on 350 for 40-50 min.