Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

Classic Italian-American ricotta and spinach manicotti, made with fresh pasta and a few little tricks. [Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Spinach and ricotta manicotti is one of those dishes that are edible—dare I say, enjoyable—even under the most inauspicious of circumstances (think: cafeteria steam tables). So how great would it be if you optimized every ingredient and served it fresh from the oven?

(Hint: really, really great.)