Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water. Drain.
Process tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in a blender 20 seconds or until smooth. Set aside.
Remove casings from sausage, and discard. Cook sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Stir in cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Spoon into manicotti shells; arrange stuffed shells in lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Pour tomato mixture over shells; sprinkle with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let casserole stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle top with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
Note: Casserole may be assembled and frozen up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight; bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. If you prefer a smaller casserole, use 2 (11- x 7-inch) baking dishes. Proceed as directed.
Ground Beef and Tomato Manicotti: Substitute 1 pound lean ground beef for sausage. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon fennel seed. Proceed as directed.
We love this recipe. It is pretty much foolproof, easy and tasty. I was not sure about the 10-oz can of tomatoes with green chiles, basil, garlic and oregano. (has anyone ever found such a can?) I decided it was a mistake and use a can of mild Ro-tel and a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano and it comes out great. Tomorrow I will try adding a package of frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeezed dry, to the filling.
We loved this dish on a cold night. I used mild Italian sausage and I added Italian seasoning both to the sauce and the filling. I also seasoned the filling with salt and pepper. It would have been much too bland without it.
We liked this! My hubby loved it & our 3 year old at it up. The ricotta/cream cheese combo was good. I doubled it & froze half- we'll see how it is from the freezer. A small ziploc w/ a quarter-size hole in the corner is good for filling the manicotti. I'll definately make again- for family or casual company.
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