Healthy and delicious, this Italian Turkey Spinach Manicotti is a great dinner option made with lean ground turkey, spinach, and part skim ricotta. Don’t miss this tasty stuffed pasta that’s also a great make-ahead and freezer-friendly meal.
This recipe for Turkey & Spinach Manicotti is the perfect meal when you are craving Italian food. Simple to make and full of protein, this is one meal you can eat and feel good about.
And I promise, this recipe doesn’t lack flavor! You’re going to love the creamy texture of the ricotta and parmesan, and the meaty satisfaction of the turkey.
Manicotti is one of the beautiful dishes that can be made ahead with ease. That’s what makes it ideal for weeknight dinners or meal prep entrees.
Moreover, this dish can be doubled or tripled with excellent results. It’s also great to invite some friends over and have a meal prep party.
To make ahead for the week, just prep the entire recipe, but instead of baking, cover in foil and let sit until ready to bake. To save even more time, you could bake now and just have as leftovers for the week.
As a freezer friendly meal, just prep all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container in the freezer. I like to cover my pan with tight layer of plastic wrap and foil just to ensure that no air gets in. Later, just take the manicotti out of the freezer and refrigerate about 24 hours prior to baking.
If you love make-ahead pastas that are freezer friendly, be sure to check out my other favorites:
- Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce is a crowd favorite and so simple to put together.
- Easy Vegetable Lasagne is another healthy option with lots of “hidden veggies” in the sauce.
- Italian Pasta Bake from Taste of Home is a tasty option with a meaty mushroom sauce.
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese has a delicious cheesy sauce that everyone goes crazy for.
Turkey Spinach Manicotti
Making Turkey Spinach Manicotti is easy to do. Firstly, you need to make the filling and boil the manicotti shells.
To start, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the manicotti according to package directions. Set aside to cool and either lightly coat with olive oil or place so that the manicotti are not touching each other so as to prevent sticking.
I should note that this recipe can be made using the crepe version of manicotti as well. Just follow the steps, but instead of stuffing the shells, you can roll them into the manicotti crepe shells instead.
For the filling, cook the ground turkey, onions, and garlic just until the turkey is cooked through. Thaw and then squeeze the frozen spinach until it is nearly dry. Combine the turkey mixture in a large bowl with ricotta, spinach, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and an egg.
Secondly, set up your “station” to fill the shells. Here, I used a jarred pasta sauce: my favorites are Victoria Marinara and Rao’s Marinara sauces. However, you can use whatever sauce you like, even Alfredo, or make your own from scratch. You can find my homemade sauce recipe at Make-Ahead Turkey Meatballs – another delicious make-ahead recipe!
Spread about a 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and start stuffing the manicotti. I have tried many methods of doing this in the past, including piping bags. See below for my recommended stuffing method.
Stuffing Manicotti Shells
I find the easiest way to get the filling into manicotti shells is using a small baby spoon. To do this, just scoop small amounts of the filling into one end the manicotti, then flip and do the other side.
And don’t worry about being too clean about it. The filling is great at staying in the shell when baked and, once covered in sauce, you can’t really tell how it looks anyway.
Lastly, add on the remaining sauce and parmesan cheese, cover and bake. This takes about 30-35 minutes to bake, but be sure to add more time if you are making this with cold or frozen shells. Remove foil and broil for a minute or two if desired.
This recipe magically makes enough filling to stuff 14 manicotti shells, the amount you find in an 8 ounce box of manicotti. You could also substitute jumbo shells or even just toss the filling with any pasta and pour sauce over.
Anyway you make it, this is a delicious and healthy recipe to have in your weeknight dinner lineup. Enjoy!
Turkey Spinach Manicotti
- 8 ounces Manicotti shells (about 14 shells)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3/4 pounds lean ground turkey
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 15 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook Manicotti shells according to package instructions and set aside.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground turkey, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt. Cook until turkey is no longer pink and onions have softened, about 6-7 minutes.
- Combine the meat mixture, spinach, ricotta, and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if desired, then stir in the egg. Spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Use a small spoon to fill the manicotti shells with the meat ricotta mixture. Arrange shells on top of the marinara in the baking pan.
- Spoon remaining 1 1/2 cups of sauce over top of the manicotti shells and sprinkle on remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until the sauce is bubbly.