This make-ahead Southern dish is the best answer to "What am I going to do about dinner?"

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If you’re looking for a meal you can prep ahead of time and leave in the fridge until dinner, that’s sure to delight even the pickiest eater, look no further. Southern refried bean cannelloni is the answer to the question, “What am I going to do about dinner?” Think of it as the delicious lovechild of a lasagna and a burrito: pasta rolls stuffed with meat and beans and cheese, swimming in a delicious salsa sauce.
You can prep this dish a few hours in advance, and leave it in the fridge for the babysitter or spouse to heat up, meaning you don’t have to worry about surprise dishes or messes when you get back!
Cooktop Cove
Southern Refried Bean Cannelloni
20 minutes
1 hour 30 minutes
1 hour 50 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
One small yellow onion, diced
Three cloves garlic, minced
Two 16-ounce cans pinto beans
2 teaspoon ground cumin, separated
2 teaspoons chili powder, separated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded cheese of choice, separated
One 12-ounce box manicotti shells
One 16-ounce jar tomato salsa
2 cups warm water
Pour the vegetable oil into a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over a medium-high heat. When it just begins to shimmer, add the onion and garlic, and sweat until translucent, about two and a half minutes.
Add both cans of pinto beans and their liquid, 1 teaspoon each of the ground cumin an chili powder, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook seven to 10 minutes, until the beans begin to soften. Use a potato masher to mash the beans slightly, leaving plenty of chunks; you can always go back and mash more later.
Cook the beans an additional five to 10 minutes, until they begin to thicken. Give them an additional mash if desired, and reduce the heat to low.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and remaining spices. Add the beans and 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese and mix thoroughly.
Spray a 15-by-10-inch baking dish or casserole with non-stick spray.
Stuff uncooked manicotti shells with the meat, bean, and cheese mixture and lay them side-by-side in the dish in a single layer.
Top the shells with the tomato salsa and warm water, and cover the dish with aluminum foil. At this point, you can keep the dish in the fridge up to three hours before cooking!
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and uncover. Top with remaining shredded cheese, and bake it for an additional 15 minutes. Allow to cool five minutes before serving.
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