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    Yule Manicotti With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

    ournal as: 1 portion "light frozen dinner or vegetarian with light sauce" OR 1/4 cup starch without added fat + 1 ounce low-fat cheese + 1/2 vegetables with 1 teaspoon fat.

    If you're feeding a crowd, double the recipe. Set each manicotti on top of a small pool of red pepper sauce on the dinner plate, or serve them with an ample drizzle of the red pepper sauce on top. If you want to skip the roasting-the-peppers step, substitute 1 cup of bottled roasted red peppers for the 2 sweet red peppers.

    8 large dried manicotti pasta shells (or similar)
    2 sweet red peppers
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1/2 cup 1% milk
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    Pepper to taste
    Salt to taste (optional)
    1 1/2 cups low-fat or part-skim ricotta cheese
    3/4 cup firmly packed, frozen chopped spinach (thawed, with excess water gently squeezed out)
    6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce (like Armanino, found in the frozen pasta section)
    4 green onions, white and part of green, chopped
    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with canola cooking spray.
    • Boil manicotti shells according to directions on package until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and carefully set aside.
    • While manicotti is boiling, turn on the broiler. Cut each red pepper into quarters and remove inside flesh and seeds. Cut each quarter in half to make eight strips total. Lay strips, skin side down, on a nonstick baking sheet (line with foil for easy cleanup, if desired). Brush the tops of pepper strips with olive oil. Broil until the top sides are nicely brown, watching carefully. Flip and broil until brown. Let peppers cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • In a food processor, puree pepper strips with milk, garlic, and pepper to taste. Add salt to taste if desired. Keep sauce at a low simmer in a small, covered, nonstick saucepan while you bake the manicotti.
    • Mix filling ingredients (ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, pesto, green onions, and Italian seasonings) in a bowl with spoon or fork. Stuff shells with the cheese mixture. Arrange in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 minutes more.
    • Serve one or two manicotti shells per person; decorate each shell with ample red pepper sauce.

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