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What To Serve With Manicotti?: 12 Incredible Manicotti Side Dishes

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Whether you opt for lasagna, carbonara, or amatriciana, pasta dishes are always delicious!

What To Serve With Manicotti?: 12 Incredible Manicotti Side Dishes

Manicotti is another tasty example. The name is Italian for ‘little sleeves’, which refers to the dish’s appearance. Manicotti is made with stuffed pasta, usually with a mix of spinach, ricotta cheese, and meat.

You can enjoy this hearty dish on its own, but it can taste even better with other dishes. Depending on the recipes you choose, the right side dish can make the flavors within manicotti stand out, giving the meal more depth overall.

If you’re wondering what dishes to serve with manicotti, you’re in the right place! We’ve listed 12 of the best manicotti side dishes below.

Whether you prefer lighter bites to complement the main course, or heartier options for a decadent dinner, you’re sure to find a manicotti side dish that suits your tastes in this post.

Keep reading to discover some incredibly delectable manicotti side dishes!

What Is Manicotti?

Manicotti is a type of pasta shape, though it also refers to an Italian dish made with manicotti pasta. The pasta looks like a big, hollow tube that is often stuffed with different ingredients. It works well with several ingredients, like vegetables, cheese, and meat.

The Italian dish manicotti is like stuffed shells. The pasta tubes are boiled until they reach al dente consistency. They are then stuffed with mozzarella cheese, ricotta, and spinach.

Some may choose to add pork, veal, or ground beef, but you can keep the dish meat-free as well.

The stuffed manicotti shells are then transferred to a baking dish and layered with marinara sauce. Some also choose to sprinkle more cheese over the dish, though this is down to personal preference!

Manicotti is a great comfort food dish that’s incredibly easy to prepare. Its creamy consistency and herb-like flavors work well with several side dishes, though some may work better than others based on the ingredients you use.

Best Manicotti Side Dishes

Now that you know what manicotti is, here are some tasty side dishes to enjoy alongside!

1. Grilled Vegetables

If you favor lighter side dishes, grilled vegetables work incredibly well with manicotti. The heat from the grill will bring out the sweeter notes from the veggies, which complement the creamy elements of the manicotti’s ricotta cheese.

You can use any type of vegetables that you like, though a mix of green and root vegetables will have the best effect. Just remember to keep an eye on the grill as they cook, as it’s easy to burn delicate skin on the veggies.

2. Tomato Basil Soup

Depending on the ingredients you use, homemade tomato soup can be light and refreshing or decadent and comforting.

Adding basil to the blend helps bring out the juicy notes from the manicotti’s tomato sauce. It’s best to roast your tomatoes before making the soup, as the oven will intensify the fruit’s savory notes.

You can add a touch of cream to the soup, but the side dish works well without it as well. Feel free to add some chili flakes for a little kick!

3. Garlic Breadsticks

Garlic bread is a traditional Italian dish that works well with several pasta dishes, just like manicotti!

The garlic from the bread brings out the same robust flavors in the main course. All you need to do is brush olive oil on a baguette and sprinkle seasoning on top.

As the bread bakes in the oven, its outsides turn crispy, but its center remains soft. All the different textures feel like a treat in the mouth, especially when paired with the tender pasta filling. You’re bound to love dipping the bread into the manicotti’s tangy tomato sauce!

4. Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms appear elegant, but they are very easy to put together. This will turn into one of your go-to dishes as they always look stunning!

The dish involves stuffing large mushrooms with Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. The Parmesan has a little kick that works with the manicotti’s other cheeses, while breadcrumbs add a pleasant crunch against the dish’s creamy ingredients.

Top the side dish with some balsamic vinegar for some sweetness, as this complements the main dish’s strong tomato flavors well.

5. Barbecue Ribs

This may seem like a strange option, but barbecue ribs taste great alongside manicotti. The grill gives the meat smokey notes that work well with herbs inside the main dish. The meat also has a tender texture that complements the pasta’s al dente consistency.

Give your ribs a dry rub with garlic, cumin, paprika, onion powder, and sugar before grilling them. The sugar highlights the spices in the ribs’ barbecue sauce and the manicotti’s tomato sauce.

It’s best to slow-cook your ribs to avoid overcooking them, as tougher meat can detract from the pasta’s creamier notes.

6. Mashed Potatoes

If you’re after a heartier side dish, you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes!

Mashed potatoes have a velvety texture that tastes great against manicotti’s al dente pasta. Make yours extra decadent by making yours with butter and garlic salt. The butter makes the potatoes feel rich, while the garlic salt brings out the other seasonings in the main dish.

Top your mashed potatoes with fresh chives or basil for a nice touch!

7. Green Salad And Vinaigrette

As manicotti is a heartier dish, you can balance its rich notes by pairing it with a green salad. The salad’s lighter green leaves work well with manicotti’s intense flavors.

You can also add a vinaigrette dressing on top of the salad. Its acidity cuts through the cream cheese in the main dish, while its sweetness enhances the juicier tomatoes and onions in the salad.

The dressing is a lot simpler than it sounds, as you simply whisk vinegar, salt, olive oil, and garlic together. Add a little pepper for some spice, then drizzle it over your salad.

The dressing also tastes nice against spinach in the manicotti, so feel free to keep some on the side!

8. Italian Chopped Salad

Like the manicotti main course, this salad recipe is packed with Italian flavors!

The mix of mozzarella, cucumbers, lettuce, and salami form a light, yet tasty side dish. The salad is often topped with homemade vinaigrette which ties all of the salad’s flavors together.

Italian chopped salad also contains red wine vinegar and cherry tomatoes. The vinegar cuts right through the mozzarella from both courses. Cherry tomatoes have a similar flavor to the ones used in the manicotti sauce, which makes both dishes seem like a natural pair.

The salad is light, but its many ingredients can be very filling. You’ll only need a small bowl to keep on the side of your main dish!

9. Lemon Pepper Shrimp

As shrimp are easy to cook, you won’t need to spend a long time preparing this side dish. Simply saute some shrimp, butter, lemon juice, and garlic in a pan. Add some salt and pepper, then you’re done!

This seafood dish contains several flavors that work well with manicotti. The shrimp have a tender, yet firm texture. This is a nice contrast against the manicotti’s creamy cheese filling.

The lemon complements the shrimp’s natural meaty flavors, but it also shines right through the other ingredients in the manicotti. The lemon’s juices work well with the herbs and tomatoes, while its acidity gives the main course a bright, fresh feel.

It’s best to use fresh shrimp here, but if you can only find frozen shrimp, go for larger-sized shrimp. The frozen shrimp can shrink down in size once they cook, so it’s best to use the largest ones you can find.

10. Sautéed Spinach

Manicotti tastes great with vegetable dishes, and this spinach side option is no exception!

Cooked with garlic and seasoning, this lighter dish balances the manicotti’s decadent notes well. As manicotti is often stuffed with spinach, this side pairs well with the dish.

You can cook the spinach with several methods, but sautéing brings out the spinach’s earthy, slightly sweet notes.

Always use fresh spinach, as frozen vegetables can wilt rapidly. Fresh spinach also has a nicer flavor that works well with the manicott’s invigorating ingredients.

This side dish doesn’t need a lot of work, but you can sprinkle some sea salt and red pepper flakes on top for an extra kick.

11. Parmesan Potato Wedges

Potato wedges always taste great, particularly when baked with a sprinkling of Parmesan!

When baked in the oven, potato wedges take on a crisp texture and a soft center. The Parmesan melts on top, giving the dish a nutty, slightly sharp flavor.

The wedges go great with manicotti’s crisp, natural flavors. Parmesan from both courses pairs both dishes well, while the main dish’s tangy tomato sauce tastes great against the tender potatoes.

Consider giving your wedges a touch of garlic salt for extra flavor, as this complements the garlic from the main course as well.

12. Grilled Chicken Skewers

Grilled chicken skewers work well for a variety of occasions. As the chicken cooks over the grill, it cooks until tender in the center, with a nice sear on the outside. The meat takes on a gorgeous flavor that works with pasta dishes.

The skewers are so easy to pick up and eat, which is perfect for dishing out to guests at parties, especially on the side of a tasty manicotti main course!

You can marinate your chicken in whatever way you like. However, as manicotti has a lot of different flavors, it’s best to keep the chicken on the simpler side. A little lemon, garlic, and seasoning are all you need for a fantastic side dish!

Final Thoughts

Those were 12 delicious side dishes that work wonderfully with manicotti.

As manicotti is made with light and rich ingredients, there are lots of side dishes that work well with the dish.

Try a few of the options above and see which ones you prefer. You might just find a new favorite combination!

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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