Here is a great recipe that you can make for a small dinner party, or just for two people. The quantities can be easily adjusted depending on how many people you are cooking for. Keep the store bought manicotti pasta on hand, and I usually always have an emergency jar of store bought pasta sauce for those days when I don't feel like cleaning up another pot for the sauce.
Store bought dry manicotti pasta (cannelloni is fine too), spinach, mushrooms (optional), ricotta cheese, Italian herbs (any variation of dried italian seasoning, dry or fresh oregano and basil, onion, garlic (optional), pasta sauce, mozarella cheese, 2 eggs.
For 6-7 stuffed manicotti's.
Boil a lot of water (use a large pot, the pasta will cook better), add salt to this. When the water boils add the pasta, cook it for 8-10 minutes. 8 minutes if you like it al dente (firm - which I recommend). In a saucepan saute an onion in extra virgin olive oil until it becomes translucent. If you want to add garlic, add 1 clove of chopped garlic at this time and saute. Add two handfuls of frozen or fresh spinach, add salt and pepper, cover and let the spinach cook for a few minutes.
Drain the pasta at this point. Add the chopped mushrooms to the spinach mixture, cook for a few minutes. Add the seasoning at this point -- whatever you have, italian seasoning, basil, oregano (dry or fresh!). Let the mixture cool for a while. I just stick it in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes depending on how much time I have to prepare. After it cools a little, mix in the ricotta cheese (I use light, but you can use either light or full fat). For 6-7 manicotti's I mix in about a third of a tub of ricotta. If you have eggs you can add two eggs beaten at this point. If I don't have eggs on hand simply omit them. All they do is help bind the stuffing a bit, so it doesn't ooze as much. You can also add some pesto to the stuffing if you have it on hand, it adds a very nice flavour.
Spray a casserole dish with vegetable spray, or butter it if you don't have spray. Add some sauce to the bottom. Stuff the manicotti's (I stuff from both ends), and lay them in the dish. Cover with sauce (if you like a lot of sauce add it, I don't put too much sauce for my taste). Top with mozzarella cheese, either the shredded variety (I'm not a fan of it), or slices of mozzarella, again to your taste. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil, and for 5-8 minutes uncovered until the cheese gets gooey. Garnish with chopped parsley.
I serve this with a simple salad of romaine lettuce ( I buy the romaine hearts in a package), dressed with lemon, ranch dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons. You can serve this with a baguette as well.