1(24-ounce) jar prepared marinara sauce(or three cups homemade)
For the pasta:
12 - 14manicotti pasta shells(8-ounces)
2cupspart-skim ricotta cheese
2large eggs,lightly beaten
2tablespoonsfresh parsley leaves,chopped
½teaspoonfresh ground black pepper
⅓cupshredded Parmesan cheese,divided
1cupshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Put a large pot of water on the stove top and heat on medium-low while preparing the sauce.
To prepare the sauce:
Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned, breaking up chunks with a spoon. Remove the sausage and residual juices from the skillet. Drain well. Set aside. (Do not wipe out the skillet.)
Pour the olive oil into the now empty skillet. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, undisturbed until browned. Stir and continue cooking until the mushrooms release their moisture and are browned. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the minced shallot. Cook and stir constantly until the shallot softens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Carefully pour in the wine. Deglaze the pan by scraping up any crusty bits on the bottom. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly to wilt, this can be done in two batches if needed. Add the marinara and cooked sausage. Stir to combine then remove from the heat. Cover and set aside while preparing the pasta.
To prepare the pasta:
Bring the pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the manicotti according to package directions, about 7 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and half the Parmesan.
Spread 3 cups of the meat sauce in the prepared pan. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the cooked manicotti, filling each with about ¼ cup. Place the filled manicotti in two tight rows on top of the sauce in the prepared pan. Repeat until all pasta is filled. Top with remaining meat sauce. You may have 1 or 2 extra manicotti shells. (Refrigerate and use with leftovers if desired.)
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until the casserole is hot and bubbling. Remove the foil and sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Bake, uncovered until the cheese melts, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool 15 minutes then serve garnished with fresh basil, if desired.