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Mouthwatering Meatless Manicotti

Looking for an alternative to those endless tuna casseroles? Try this cheese and spinach Italian staple that features uncooked pasta and low-fat dairy products, reducing both the prep time and the calories. To round out the meal, serve with a colorful green salad and some crusty whole-wheat bread.

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1/4 cup (1-ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

11/2 teaspoons (tsp) dried oregano

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 (8-ounce) package uncooked manicotti (14 shells)

1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce

cooking spray

1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 11/2 cups mozzarella cheese with the cottage cheese, and mix with the next five ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture into each uncooked shell. Pour half of the tomato sauce into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange the stuffed shells in a single layer over the sauce, then top with the remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese evenly over the sauce. Cover dish tightly with foil, and bake at 375 degrees until shells are tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes seven servings (one serving equals two manicotti shells).

Per Serving: 328 calories; 9 grams (g) fat; 23.8 g protein; 38.3 g carbohydrates; 3.9 g fiber; 23 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 891 mg sodium.

Source: May 2005 Cooking Light.

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