This Chicken and Spinach Manicotti is super easy to make and so full of flavor. It’s one of those semi-homemade casseroles that is a wonderful back pocket recipe for company or an easy family Sunday dinner. This recipe just came together with ingredients I normally keep in the refrigerator and pantry. I didn’t measure any ingredient so I’ve done my best to write them down, but use them as a guide. Cooking unlike baking is more forgiving so you don’t need to measure everything.
Butter a 9X13 baking casserole and set aside. Place a cooling rack over a sheet pan and set aside. You’ll drain the manicotti pasta on it later. Fill a large pot with water, add a little olive oil and a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook uncovered for 8 minutes. Remove and drain on the rack spaced out so they don’t touch or they will stick.
Add two cups of shredded chicken to a large mixing bowl. I love my glass Pyrex bowl. Coat the bottom of wide skillet and wilt the spinach over medium heat. If the spinach leaves are large, give them a rough chop so they are not larger than the chicken pieces. You can chop them before or after wilting, it doesn’t matter. Add the wilted spinach to the mixing bowl with the chicken.
Note: I purchased a lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken earlier in the day so I shredded two cups of chicken breast for the manicotti and stored the remaining dark meat for another recipe. You can use store bought rotisserie chicken or chicken you poached or roasted at home.
Add to the mixing bowl onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, nutmeg, beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan Reggiano grated cheese, red pepper flakes and basil paste. Stir together until well combined.
Tip: In a zigzag motion shake the dry herbs over the chicken and spinach mixture from the top to bottom of the bowl.
In the same wide skillet where you wilted the spinach, sauté the mushrooms. Coat with olive oil, add the portobello mushrooms and sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning. Sauté over medium-high heat until golden brown. Remove the mushrooms and set aside in a small bowl. To the skillet add butter, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, milk, Parmesan, nutmeg and pepper to the skillet. Stir and simmer over medium-low heat until well blended. Add half the sautéed mushrooms and mix to combine. Spread half the sauce at the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Note: Mushrooms add great flavor, but the main ingredients are chicken and spinach. If you don’t like mushrooms, omit them and use Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup instead. Cream of Chicken Soup will also yield a very nice and flavorful sauce and no one has to know!
Once the sauce is ready and you’ve layered half in the prepared baking dish, you can stuff the manicotti. Stuffing the manicotti can be tricky. I find a disposable pastry piping bag is the easiest way to get this done. Fill the bag with the filling and twist and secure the top so the filling doesn’t ooze out. I used a 16 ounce disposable bag and filled it twice. If you don’t have a pastry bag, a Ziploc bag will to the trick.
Trim the tip of the piping bag the size of the manicotti opening so the chicken pieces come out easily. Hold a manicotti in one hand and apply even pressure to ease the filling into the pasta. Set in the baking dish. Repeat step until the baking dish is filled and you’re out of filling. I think I had an extra manicotti pasta or two.
Spread the remaining sauce evenly over the manicotti and top with an even layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Scatter the remaining mushrooms on top of the cheese and drizzle the olive oil and basil paste. It’s a thick drizzle so use a spoon to spread it out a little. Again, if you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out.
Bake at 350°F uncovered for 35 minutes. Broil for a New York minute or so just until the cheese is golden to your liking. Whenever you’re broiling a dish, don’t walk away. You need to watch it closely because the boiler can quickly burn a dish, especially cheese! Open the oven door slightly as you broil so you can see the browning and have a set of oven mitts handy.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes. Garnish with basil or parsley. Serves 6 people, two manicotti per person. Add a side salad and bread to complete the meal. Enjoy! Let me know if you make it and leave your comments below.
Chicken and Spinach Manicotti with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Hearty and flavorful manicotti filled with shredded chicken, spinach, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses with lots of herbs and baked in a mushroom cream sauce. An easy and satisfying family size meal.
- 1 8 oz. box manicotti pasta substitute with shells or lasagna
Chicken and Spinach Filling
- 2 cups shredded chicken (rotisserie or oven roasted chicken breasts)
- 1 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- olive oil, to coat the skillet for the spinach
- 5-6 oz. spinach, fresh preferred (f frozen, drain all the liquid very well)
- ½ cup Parmesan Reggiano shredded cheese (store bought)
- 2 extra large eggs, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mushroom Cream Sauce
- olive oil, to coat the skillet for the mushrooms
- 1 pint portobello mushrooms, pre-sliced
- ⅛ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup substitute with Cream of Chicken Soup
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ½ cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- 1 Tablespoon basil paste or fresh basil, chopped
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch ground black pepper
Olive Oil & Basil Drizzle (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon basil paste
- 1 8 oz. Tillamook Mozzarella shredded cheese
- garnish with parsley or fresh basil
Butter a 9X13 Pyrex baking casserole and set aside. Place a baking rack over a sheet pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
Fill a pot with water, add olive oil, a good pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add pasta and cook uncovered for 8 minutes.
Remove the pasta and set them evenly apart over the baking rack to drain until you're ready to assemble. If the pasta touches, it will stick to each other as it cools.
Making the Filling
Place the shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl.
Coat the bottom of a wide skillet with a little olive oil and wilt the spinach over medium heat. Allow to cool slightly and add to the mixing bowl.
Note: If the spinach leaves are large, rough chop them so they are not larger than the shredded chicken.
Add to the chicken and spinach mixture the onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, nutmeg, beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan Reggiano grated cheese, red pepper flakes and basil paste. Stir together until well combined.
Fill a disposable piping bag or Ziploc bag with the chicken and spinach ricotta filling. Secure the top and set aside until ready to pipe.
Note: It's important not to overstuff the piping bag. Pipe half the filling, then the remaining filling.
Making the Mushroom Cream Sauce
Coat the bottom of the same skillet with olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms over medium to high heat. Remove and set aside in a small bowl.
To the skillet, add butter, Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, milk, Parmesan, nutmeg and pepper to the skillet. Stir and simmer until well blended. Turn off the burner.
Note: Don't like mushrooms? Omit them and use Cream of Chicken Soup instead.
Assembling the Casserole
Evenly spread half the cream sauce at the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Cut the tip of the piping bag about the same size as the manicotti. Hold a manicotti in one hand and apply even pressure to the bag to fill the manicotti. Place in the prepared dish. Repeat until the you've filled the baking dish and you're out of filling.
Evenly spread the remaining mushroom cream sauce over the manicotti. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and remaining sauteed mushrooms.
The olive oil basil paste drizzle is optional, but it adds a lot of flavor. Mix together the two ingredients and dollop throughout the dish. Spread it flat with the back of a spoon.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly. Broil on Hi for a minute or so until the cheese is golden.
Note: Watch the dish while broiling. The boiler can quickly burn your dish and never walk away from the oven while using the boiler.
Remove from oven and allow to rest about 10 minutes. Garnish with basil or parsley. Serves 6 people.
If you don’t have manicotti, but have jumbo shells, stuff the shells. You can also use lasagna noodles and make individual roll ups.
Assemble and wrap with plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator overnight and bake the following day.
Freeze Up to 3 Months
Assemble and wrap with plastic wrap and foil to prevent freezer burn. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake accordingly.