You won’t need teeth to eat this soft and tender manicotti made with crepes. And these are whole wheat crepes! I’ve tried stuffing manicotti pasta – you know, the ones that break when you boil them, and slip and slide when you try to stuff them. It’s easier and faster to make homemade crepes and just roll them up with a simple ricotta cheese filling.
This recipe uses two of my other recipes: Crepes and Quick & Easy Spaghetti Sauce. I make the crepes with whole wheat pastry flour. You can use all-purpose flour but trust me, they are beautifully soft and tender made with w.w.p. flour. The best part is that you can make the crepes and sauce a day or two in advance and when it’s time to make dinner you only have to put the easy filling together, roll up the crepes, and bake. You’ll have just enough time to make a salad and some steamed broccoli on the side.
The stuffing is a simple combination of part skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses with parmesan, parsley, and an egg yolk. You can cover them all over with sauce or sometimes I leave the sides bare and put sauce down the center. I’m a big fan of my homemade spaghetti sauce but you certainly can use a bottled sauce if you like.
When stuffing and rolling the manicotti, you can tuck in the ends to seal in the filling but I like to leave the ends open and let a little cheese show itself. Plus it’s less work just to roll them up, no tucking. Remember it’s important to have vegetables at every meal so while this bakes for 30 minutes, be sure to take time to make a salad and a cooked vegetable on the side.
The best thing about this simple meal is that every single ingredients has health benefits. Brown rice has fiber and lots of minerals including selenium, which has been shown to protect against cancer. Beans also have soluble fiber to lower cholesterol as well as calcium for bones. And don’t get me started about all the antioxidants in colored peppers! So here is an easy vegetarian recipe that’s super healthy. It’s high in protein and fiber and oh yes… flavor!
By the way, high fiber meals keep you feeling full longer and that helps with weight loss. This is a recipe you can easily make your own with more jalapeno pepper for added heat, toss in your favorite extra spices, or use a different kind of bean. I really like red beans in this dish but I can never find canned red beans at the grocery store. Whole Foods carries one by Westbrae that I prefer so if you can find it, I think you’ll like the meaty texture of these beans.
But a close second would be red kidney beans and even black beans would work. By the way, black beans are the highest in antioxidants of all beans. Basically you can’t go wrong with any kind of canned beans in this heart-healthy, easy recipe.
Let’s talk about rice for a minute. Brown rice has more nutrients and fiber than white rice but if you’re short on time, you can make this dish with converted rice (I like Uncle Ben’s). You won’t get as much fiber but you’ll still get protein, iron, and folate from converted rice and all the benefits (including fiber) of the beans and peppers. Both brown and white rice are gluten free.
Next meatless Monday, try this simple vegetarian one-pan meal. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones