Shiitake Mushroom and Spinach Manicotti
- 12 manicotti or cannelloni shells
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, divided
- 4 1/2 cups sliced fresh shiitake or other mushrooms (8 ounces)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, coarse stems removed
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gouda cheese
- 2 7-grain sandwich bread slices (we tested with Branola)
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican four-cheese blend
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
- Cook shells according to package directions; drain.
- Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet; add mushrooms and garlic, and sauté until mushroom liquid is absorbed. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl.
- Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Add spinach; cover and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add spinach to mushroom mixture. Stir in ricotta cheese and next 4 ingredients. Spoon spinach mixture evenly into shells. Place stuffed shells in a greased 13" x 9" baking dish.
- Melt 1/3 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in half-and half; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add Gouda cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Pour over stuffed shells.
- Process bread in a blender or food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Spread crumbs in a small pan; bake at 350° for 3 to 4 minutes or until toasted. Combine toasted crumbs, cheese blend, and 3 tablespoons melted butter in a bowl; toss well, and sprinkle over shells.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
- Note: If desired, cover and chill manicotti at least 8 hours before baking. Remove from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake as directed.
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