May 1st, 2014
This month's guest blogger is Whitney Bond. Her blog merges this single girl's love of healthy food, travel and global cooking into experimental recipes that are as fun to eat as they are to make. Using Pacific beans and Tortilla Soup Starter, she's created a tasty fusion dish your whole family will enjoy.
Written and Conceived by Whitney Bond
I was so excited when Pacific Foods reached out to me a few weeks ago offering me the opportunity to be their Featured Blogger for the month of May. Since they knew I was a huge fan of Mexican food, they asked me to create a dish for Cinco De Mayo featuring their Tortilla Soup Starter and Organic Refried Beans.
Their e-mail couldn’t have come at a better time. I had just picked up some manicotti shells at the grocery store with the idea of creating Mexican Manicotti. Where did the idea for Mexican Manicotti come from you ask? Well, one of the most popular recipes on LLB is for Mexican Stuffed Shells, (they’re also a personal favorite!) so I decided to make another Mexican pasta dish.
While the stuffed shells are filled with ground beef, I decided to keep the manicotti vegetarian by filling it with Pacific’s delicious refried black beans, queso fresco and Mexican spices. I used their Tortilla Soup Starter as the sauce on top of the manicotti, making this recipe so simple and so tasty!
All I am thinking about right now is the fact that I wish I hadn’t eaten this entire dish by myself in a matter of 24 hours. Needless to say, it was delicious and I want more!
Mexican Manicotti (serves 3-4)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Boil a large pot of water and add the manicotti pasta.
3. Cook for 6-8 minutes or just before al dente. Remove from the water and set aside in an even layer to cool.
*Note: over-cooking the pasta will make it much harder to fill the shells. If the shells are too soft, they’ll tear when filling.
4. In a large bowl combine the queso fresco, taco seasoning and fresh cilantro.
5. Add the black beans and mix everything together.
6. Place the bean/cheese mixture in a large plastic bag and cut a small whole in the corner to pipe the mixture into the manicotti shells.
7. Pour one cup of the Tortilla Soup Starter into the bottom of an oven safe baking dish.
8. Hold each shell in your hand and pipe the mixture into the shells.
*Note: I found it easiest to pipe half of the mixture into one side. Turn the shell around, then pipe the other half through the other side.
9. Place the filled manicotti on top of the Tortilla Soup Starter in the dish.
10. Pour the other cup of Tortilla Soup Starter over the shells.
11. Sprinkle the pepper jack cheese on top.
12. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until cheese is melted and bubbly).
Each time I ate this dish (and by each time I mean for the next 3 meals!), I topped it with something different to see what I liked best. My favorite toppings were fresh cilantro, fresh diced peppers and a little squeeze of lime juice, I loved the crunch that the peppers added on top and the zest of the fresh lime juice! You could also top it with diced avocado, fresh salsa or sour cream.
If you’re looking for a little meatiness in the dish, add ground beef, chorizo or shredded chicken to the beans and cheese. Obviously you’ll have more filling, so you’ll need more shells, but the basic concept is the same!
♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.
♦ Gluten Free Option: Use gluten-free large shell pasta instead of manicotti pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.
This post and recipe are sponsored by Pacific Foods. Thank you for supporting LLB sponsors. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
My infatuation with food is about exploring and learning about different cultures and cuisines through travel.- Whitney Bond