Pesto Veggie Manicotti

pesto spinach cheese stuffed manicotti
  • What’s in it?
  • 15oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 box of manicotti noodles (1/2 box of large shells works too!)
  • 1 bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/4 cup of grated carrots and/or zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan/romano cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp of pesto (adjust intensity to suit your tastes!)
  • mozzarella cheese for topping (go lean or go cheesy!)
  • to taste: black pepper, salt, parsley, oregano, thyme & garlic powder.
  • 16 oz fire roasted marinara sauce, or your favorite red sauce

Brontosaurus Chefs to veganize, skip the dairy and stuff shells with grilled veggies
T-Rex Chefs  feel free to add ground turkey to the dish – it’s a delicious addition and frequently requested by my husband.  Simply brown the meat with your favorite Italian seasonings [parsley, oregano, basil, etc…] and a little garlic/onion powder to taste.  Mix into your cheesy veggie filling and you’re good to go!

Update Hookay sooo… tried this with some sauteed mushrooms and it was INSANELY GOOD!  Get on that. stat.  and save me a piece while you’re at it! =)

  • easy crockpot fire roasted red spaghetti sauce
    Fire Roasted Pasta Sauce:
    • 28 oz can diced/crushed tomatoes
      14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
      approx 4 oz of tomato paste (controls the thickness)
      1/2  tsp garlic powder
      1/4 tsp salt
      1 tsp dried oregano
      1 tsp dried basil
      1-2 tsp dried parsley
      3 bay leaves
      1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
      Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    In a blender or food processor, add tomatoes and blend for just a few seconds, until tomatoes look more crushed than diced.  Pour tomatoes into your crockpot, season, and walk away!  Set crockpot to low if you’ll be leaving the house and high if you’ll be around the house.  No crock pot? Simply add to a sauce pot and cook at low to medium-low on the stove-top.  Super easy! =)

Get Cooking!

Preheat your oven to 350.  Gently boil shells for approx 11min or until tender/al dente. Drain & arrange cooked noodles in a glass baking dish with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom.  Fun fact: if you roll the noodles in the red sauce it will help prevent them from sticking/wilting!  Dice and sautΓ©, onions and garlic together with shredded carrots and 1/2 tsp of olive oil. In a large bowl, fold ricotta, parm/romano cheeses, pesto, and torn spinach together with all your herbs and spices.  Next, add your veggies to the mix.  You are free to use your fingers, but putting the stuffing in a bag with a hole cut in the corner and squeezing is muuuch easier =) Stuff the noodles gently and  pour a generous pile of sauce on top.  Top with sliced or grated mozzarella/parm cheese and bake for approx 20-30 minutes at 350F

vegetarian pesto manicotti
So… How was it?
Face-stuffing good! =) I typically use jarred sauces for my manicotti/shells/lasagna but using my fire roasted tomato sauce and a lil punch of pesto totally took it to the next level!  I’m beyond ready for dinnertime now b/c its time for leftovers! Yay!

This stuffing also makes amazing Stuffed Shells <3


  1. says

    damn you, Jenn. you always manage to make me want to throw my dinner out the window and drive to your house.

    come make this for meeee?

  2. says

    It seems like the switch from jarred tomato sauce to fresh tomato sauce is a hot blog topic today.  I’m feeling inspired – there is pasta (probably this one) in my near future!

  3. says

    Oh this looks so fantastic. Come cook for me, please? I’m a big fan of home cooked Italian, but I’ve been feeling too lazy to prep the meals myself lately, and as a result they’ve been missing from my life for far too long. I’ll cook my famous dessert oats for breakfast if you make these for dinner πŸ˜€

  4. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean says

    looks great! i’m craving pesto right now (prior to your post) but this has only made the craving larger. in a good way :)

  5. Dishnutrish says

    I’m so glad you posted this! Manicotti is my BF’s favorite meal and I have been looking for the perfect recipe to try! :)

  6. Danielle says

    This looks fantastic!  I’ve been craving stuffed pasta for a while now and this is the perfect way to add some veggies to it.  Love it!

  7. Mikalah says

    YUM! I’ve been wanting to find a good manicotti recipe for a while, this looks amazing! And I am a sucker for anything with pesto in it these days. =)

  8. Brittany Arnold says

    I want it!!! So tasty. And yes, mother-in-laws will do that. Having a baby challenged me in the kitchen. I made baby food and some good stuff but my little one was quickly over it and wanted what we were having- therefore, I have to  make things good for the whole family. Thanks to these recipes- I get some help! xo
    brittany @

  9. Errign says

    Yum.  Ricotta cheese is one of my very favorite things, and I love lasagna/stuffed shells/rollatini because of it.  You can make “ricotta” out of tofu too, though I’ve never tried it.  I might sometime, just because :)  Happy Tuesday!

  10. says

    Oh Jenn…everything you make is just so gosh darn delicious!! I looove me some manicotti! Especially manicotti made with HOMEMADE sauce! And you know I adore pesto…Those baked mozzarella sticks have become a staple in my diet!

  11. Jenny Houlahan says

    HOLY YUM! Is what I have to say about that! 

    Clearly it’s been entirely too long since I’ve had manicotti πŸ˜€

  12. Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit says

    omg it’s pasta day today! I just left Evan’s blog 2 seconds ago and he had a delicious looking manicotti recipe, but made with eggplant. Mmm I want Italian food for dinner!!

  13. says

    I’m so so so glad I can help! I’m honored that you find my recipes inspiring
    and if there is ever anything you want me to make or a certain ingredient
    you’d like a new use for — totally let me know! =) Thanks for the sweet
    note and fabulous shout out Brittany! <3

  14. meg @ pinkgiggles says

    Oh my this looks amazing. I just ate breakfast…and was feeling quite full…but after seeing this picture my tummy is ready for something more!

  15. Redo 101 says

    Hi, thanks for sharing your recipe at Strut Your Stuff Thursday – today I’m visiting the links with recipes to add to my food options for my family. Your manicotti looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.


  16. Kissmybroccoli says

    Oh my gosh! Seriously girl…that first picture is making me drool all over myself! I haven’t had manicotti in YEARS!! Love the addition of the pesto too. I never would have thought to use it! Now let’s just see if I can bring Guido the basil plant back to life and make some of these babies! πŸ˜€

  17. says

    I made it! I’m not a cook at all… and it took me probably way longer than it needed to prep-wise since I had to read the directions like forty times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as yours, but it was delicious!

    These posts are going to make being a vegetarian SO easy! Thank you!

  18. says

    ahhhh yay! I’m so so so glad you liked it!!! Thanks for popping back in to let me know what you thought! That means the absolute world to me!!! =)

    I’ll keep the veggie entrees coming! Promise! <3

  19. Jaclyn says

    I made this last night for dinner.  I did add some crumbled Italian sausage to the cheese & veggies.  SO GOOD.  We have already added it in to our favorite recipes book!!!

  20. says

    Making these right now — with tofu instead of ricotta {husband’s preference}. Excited to see how they taste! Thanks for the recipe!! We love pesto and had some that needed to be used — perfect!

  21. Ashley@PeaceLoveYumminess says

    MMMM! I love this and seems pretty easy too! You can never go wrong with pasta and cheese lol and i LOVE pesto i make it all the time!

  22. Presleydiva says

    Made this for dinner tonight! Thank you for this AWESOME recipes (I made the sauce and cheese mixture)! Can’t wait to heat this up and dig in! Lovely!!

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