This is a recipe Carrie and I grew up eating--and enjoying! The filling can be made ahead of time and frozen; the entire thing can be assembled ahead of time and frozen.
14 manicotti shells (1 box)
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 (1.5-oz.) envelope Sloppy Joe Seasoning Mix*
1 6-oz. can tomato paste*
1 1/4 cups boiling water*
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
*Betsy sometimes substitutes 1 jar spaghetti sauce for these three ingredients. Our mom has also discovered a homemade version to substitute for the mix that's fresher-tasting and much lower in sodium: Saute 1/4 to 1/2 c. chopped onion and 1/4 to 1/2 c. chopped green pepper until vegetables are soft. Add 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1-1&1/2 tsp. brown sugar, and 1 tsp prepared mustard. Then add the tomato paste and water as the recipe calls for. Proceed as usual.
1. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water.
2. Saute zucchini in butter in large skillet for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cottage cheese and 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Stuff shells with cheese mixture. Arrange in single layer in shallow 2-quart (13x9-inch) baking dish.
3. Stir together contents of seasoning packet, tomato paste, and water. Spoon this (or spaghetti sauce) over manicotti.
4. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until hot and bubbling.