Well, this special 1,800 calorie a day diet I'm on has been kicking my ass. It's annoying, inconvenient and frustrating as hell, but like, at least my style of cooking and eating has completely changed which I'm kinda proud of. It took a lot of work and this was definitely a screw up that put me way over my caloric limit, and my stomach is still paying the price... but for those who want something decadent with half the guilt, this is the dish for you.
This was so good. Looking back, despite all my suffering, I'd do it again.
12 large manicotti tubes, cooked to al dente
2 lbs ground turkey
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 Cup pepper, diced (any type or an assortment of colors is good, whatever suits your tastes)
1 Cup leeks, diced
1 1/2 Cups Part-Skim or fat free Ricotta cheese
Tomato Sauce, either leftover, jarred, canned, homemade, whatever
8 oz block of part-skim or fat free mozzarella cheese
1 Cup Parmesan-Romano cheese, separated
Italian herbs: Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, pepper
*The mixture needs an egg to help keep it together once you cut into it. I didn't have any eggs but really wish I did. You should use an egg, you'll be glad you did.
Okay, so first you want to sauté the peppers, leeks, garlic and ground turkey in a saucepan over medium heat until cooked, blended and chopped into smallish pieces with a wooden spoon. You can use grapeseed oil or cooking spray, whatever you want.
Put some herbs and spices in there while it's cooking if you want. Prepare the pasta sauce during this time too if it hasn't been already. Put up the manicotti tubes around now too, but don't let them cook too long or they'll rip and be a real pain in the ass to work with. And don't leave them in the water once done either because they keep cooking. Yeah, I learned this the hard way.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
In a large mixing bowl, blend together the cooked turkey meat with the veggies, pour in the ricotta, extra spices, 3/4 of the cup of parmesan-romano and the egg once the stuffing has cooled down. Mix well. In the pan they're going to be cooked in, put a layer of pasta sauce so it doesn't burn.
Stuff the manicotti tubes with a spoon or pastry bag and lay them in a single layer in the baking dish, you can squeeze them together, it doesn't matter. Spoon more sauce over them when the dish is full, then sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese over it, then the remaining 1/4 Cup of paremsan-romano, color it with parsley and/or basil and bake at 375 F for about 35-40 minutes.
Once it's done, let it rest a few minutes before serving. It really is too delicious to be diet food. I tried to do the math for how many calories and fat and stuff it would be per serving, came up with something like 386 calories and 22g fat per piece, but my math skills are horrible and I miscalculated a few things so if you're inclined to figure it out for yourself, maybe we can compare notes.
For now, just have fun, eat and enjoy.