This stinging nettle stuffed manicotti is a delicious way of using stinging nettle in everyday cooking. It’s also a great make-ahead freezer meal, so be sure to double the recipe.
This dish is a great introduction to stinging nettle for anyone eating this wild edible for the first time. It’s mild and barely noticeable and yet everyone can walk away boasting about surviving stinging nettle. They’ll be keen on trying it again in other recipes.
It’s also a great way for anyone new to harvesting and preparing stinging nettle safely. You don’t have to harvest a lot, but you will have to learn how to pan blanch it – which is super easy, have a look
How to Pan Blanch Stinging Nettle
Recipe for Stinging Nettle Stuffed Manicotti
Stinging Nettle Manicotti
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add manicotti and return to boil. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until slightly less done than el dente (shells still hold their shape). Do not overcook.
- Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside in a single layer allowing water to run off.
Prepare Stinging Nettle
- With gloves on, wash and pat dry stinging nettle leaves and tips.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water and add half of stinging nettle leaves. Cook until completely wilted and dark green, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat with remainder of nettle leaves.
- The nettle is now safe to eat and touch, remove gloves and squeeze out as much water as possible.
- Place on cutting board and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
Assemble and Cook
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cover bottom of 8×8 casserole dish with half (1 1/2) cups of pasta sauce.
- In large bowl, mix ricotta, ½ cup mozzarella, 3tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, nutmeg and stinging nettle.
- Use a teaspoon, piping bag without a tip or plastic bag with a tip cut off to fill pasta shells with ricotta mix. Don't overstuff – there's enough ricotta mix for all shells, just be aware.
- Place manicotti on top of sauce. Pour remainder of pasta sauce on top.
- Mix 1/2 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese together. Sprinkle on top of sauce.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese bubbles and turns brown.
- To Freeze: Do not bake. Cool assembled dish completely. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil or lid. Label with cooking instructions.
- To Prepare from Frozen: Thaw overnight in fridge. Remove all wrapping, cover with foil and cook at 350°F for 50 minutes, uncover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Or bake direct from frozen for 1 3/4 – 2 hours until heated through and cheese is bubbly and turning golden.
- Makes: 7 manicotti noodles
- Serves: 3-4 people
I’ve used a mix of cheddar and mozza for the cheese with great results. Nutrition info based on spinach, sadly nettle is not in the database.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Tips for Filling Manicotti Pasta Shells
- Pre-cook the manicotti until just before it becomes el dente, about 6-7 minutes. At this point the shells will still be firm enough to hold their shape and yet soft enough that you don’t need extra liquid or extended cooking time.
- Use a small teaspoon that will fit inside the manicotti opening.
- Skip the spoon and use a pastry bag without a decorating tip. Or, fill a sturdy plastic bag, snip off one corner and use it as a pastry bag.
- If the manicotti is too frustrating, use large clam shell pasta or use lasagna noodles.
Tips for Freezing Stinging Nettle Manicotti
This recipe works well as a make-ahead freezer meal. Here are some tips to get the best results.
- When assembling, have all ingredients (manicotti, cheese, sauce) at the same temperature. For example, if you place cold pasta on hot sauce, the pasta will slowly cook wherever it’s touching the sauce.
- Allow dish to cool completely before wrapping. Consider storing in the fridge overnight to let it cool thoroughly. This helps prevents condensation and ice crystal build up.
- Use a double barrier to prevent oxygen from reaching the food. I use a layer of plastic wrap to put right on the surface of the food, then I wrap the dish with a layer of aluminum foil or a plastic lid (if I have one that fits).
- Label your dish. Include the recipe name and cooking instructions. It’s a good idea to also include the date if prepared meals like this typically stay in your freezer for a long time.
- Knowing this meal may be prepared by others in my family, I include helpful details like – Remove plastic – because you never know.
- For best quality, use within 3 to 6 months. It can be safely frozen for much longer (years even) but flavor and texture loss will start to be noticeable at around 6 months.
Other Nettle Recipes to Try
Here are some of my other favorite ways to enjoy stinging nettle.
As always, I’d love to hear any comments or questions if you make this recipe. In fact, take a photo and post it on Instagram and tag #getgettys so I can see it and like it!
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.