The Best Manicotti Side Dishes

What sides pair best with manicotti? Pair manicotti with various salad styles like Panzanella salad, marinated vegetable salad, and antipasti salad. Alternatively, enjoy light sides of green beans, spinach, Brussels sprouts, Parmesan cauliflower, or broccoli rabe. Lastly, opt for hearty zucchini casserole or pull-apart garlic bread.

We prefer side dishes with subtle flavors to ensure they do not overpower the true essence of this classic Italian American masterpiece. Here are our favorite pairings for manicotti.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad is a classic Italian bread salad flavored with tomato and other veggies. It offers fresh, summery flavors that lighten your rich manicotti pasta dish.

You won’t ever have to let your day-old bread waste once you try this yummy side salad.

Add bread cubes into a sauté pan with olive oil, dried oregano, and salt, and cook over medium-low heat until the bread is browned.

Then, make a dressing by whisking together olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

Now, assemble the salad, adding tomatoes, cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, basil, and bread cubes.

Lastly, toss the salad well with the dressing and allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes so the bread cubes can absorb the flavors.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Marinated vegetable salad is a healthy salad recipe highlighting crunchy fresh summer vegetables. Our make-ahead salad is the perfect way to lighten the richness of manicotti.

You can chop and change this recipe, but our favorite veggie combo includes cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and corn.

Chop up your summer veggies and toss them in a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced shallots and garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

For the best tasting veggie salad, allow it to marinate for 4 hours before serving.

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto salad is a hearty salad that makes a fantastic first-course meal or manicotti pasta side.

Add chopped greens, torn radicchio, salami, pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chickpeas to a large salad bowl.

Then, toss the salad in a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Lemon-garlic green beans are a light and delicious side that compliments any meal, including manicotti.

These flavorful beans are made with fresh green beans, garlic, and lemon juice.

Boil your green beans in salted water for 3 minutes, drain them and transfer them to a bowl of ice water.

Then, sauté the green beans for another 3 minutes in butter and olive oil, and top them off with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Garlic Sautéed Spinach

No dish comes together as quickly as sautéed spinach. And yet, it deems a perfect side time and again for heavier dishes like manicotti.

Ensure you rinse the spinach well and sauté it with garlic and olive oil in a large skillet for 3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.

You can serve the spinach as it or top it off with a dollop of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Charred and lightly caramelized Brussels sprouts are another addictive yet quick and easy side dish to serve with manicotti.

Tip: ensure you cook the Brussels sprouts over high heat to achieve a rich, caramelized flavor instead of the well-known mushy and bitter taste inflicted during childhood.

Sauté halved Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.

We enjoy adding a splash of acidity, Parmesan, and a handful of nuts to tie the flavors together, but they are optional additions.

Roasted Broccoli Rabe

Roasted broccoli rabe is a classic Italian side dish. While its bitter flavors aren’t for everyone, the intense flavor adds to its appeal alongside a rich, cheesy manicotti main.

Start by trimming the broccoli rabe’s woody ends and toss it in a blend of olive oil, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, orange zest, and salt.

Cook the broccoli rabe on a sheet pan at 425°F in the oven for 10 minutes.

Cauliflower Parmesan

Gooey, cheesy Parmesan cauliflower is healthy, Italian-American-inspired side that pairs perfectly with decadent stuffed manicotti.

Cut the cauliflower into 1-inch-thick planks and place it on the baking sheet in single layers. Then, give the cauliflower a quick roast (around 15 minutes) in the oven to soften and caramelize.

Next, top the browned cauliflower planks with tomato marinara and a slice of mozzarella and pecorino cheese. Broil them until the cheese melts and forms browned spots.

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Casserole

A garlicky zucchini casserole topped with Parmesan cheese is a cozy, hearty side dish to serve with manicotti.

Place the zucchini slices sprinkled with salt in a colander for about 10 minutes to draw out the excess moisture. Then, wrap the zucchini in a cloth and squeeze it to remove the moisture.

Add zucchini, garlic, onions, eggs, Parmesan, mozzarella, and cheddar to a greased baking dish. Bake the dish uncovered for 20 minutes at 375°F.

Next, add a topping of breadcrumbs and extra Parmesan mixed in melted butter and bake for 10 minutes.

Pull-Apart Garlic Bread

Pull-apart garlic bread is a simplistic and fun side that your guests will love alongside their manicotti main dish.

Cut a crusty sourdough loaf into 1-inch diamond shapes, but be sure not to cut it all the way through.

Then, pry open the cracks and stuff them with a thin slice of mozzarella, and drizzle a mixture of melted butter, garlic, and salt into the spaces.

Brush the surface with the extra butter mixture, wrap the bread, and pop it into the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes.

Best Wine Pairings For Manicotti

Classic wines are ideal for manicotti.

If you prefer white wine, try:

  • Soave: Soave is a dry, light-bodied wine with a smooth oily richness that lends a little extra punch.
  • Friulano: Friulano is a dry, herbal white wine often mistaken for Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio is a zesty dry white wine that adds a punch of acidity and fruity flavors ideal for manicotti.

Then, if you lean towards red wine, try:

  • Montepulciano: Montepulciano is a medium-bodied red wine with soft tannins, high acidity, and juicy, dark fruit flavors.
  • Chianti: Chianti tastes like a glass of Italy! This medium-bodied red wine lends notable earthy and rustic aromas with intense herb flavors.

Best Sauces For Manicotti

Manicotti is best paired with a simplistic marinara sauce.

Cook onions and garlic in a medium saucepan until they brown on the edges. Then, add dry red wine and allow the mixture to simmer for 2 minutes,

Now, stir in the pulsed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried herbs, crushed red pepper, sugar, and salt.

Allow the marinara sauce to simmer for 25 minutes, stir in freshly chopped basil and parsley, and cook for 3 minutes before serving.