Lasagne Roll-Ups
Lasagne Roll-ups

I really don't make pasta that often because it's high in carbs and if I'm going to indulge I'd rather have dessert, but there's just something about the prolonged cold weather that makes my hips crave noodles and cheese and tomato sauce! I know, I'm doomed! But tough times demand great comfort food and these my friends, are truly great and absolutely worth a few extra miles on the treadmill (or whatever your preferred brand of torture is) as atonement. If you've never had lasagne roll ups, you owe it to yourself to try these now!

I've made plenty of lasagnes in my life, but none has been as fun to put together as this! There's just something so satisfying about rolling up the sheets of pasta and nestling them all together in the tray! Plus, this is an incredibly versatile dish. Not only does it double or even triple well, but you can remove the meat and keep it vegetarian and make it way ahead and freeze it. You can even make this in small loaf pans for 1-2 eaters at a time. Also, it's a great party dish-so much easier to serve this at parties than the traditional layered version. There's almost nothing these little roll-ups can't do...except make themselves!!

You start by boiling lasagne noodles and laying them out to dry.

Meanwhile you prepare an easy homemade meat sauce which you spread onto the bottom of a baking dish. In another bowl you combine ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, eggs, parsley, basil and spices--

And then spread the mixture onto the noodles, rolling them up in the process and placing them in the baking dish.

In the process you add more of the sauce and then top with mozzarella and parmesan.

And an agonizing 20 minutes later, you have a tray of cheesy filled tender noodles, covered with a hearty meat sauce and gooey crusty cheesy topping! Everyone loves them and because you can sort of see how much you're taking, there's an element of portion control here. One roll-up won't leave you stuffed but you will feel satisfied. And if you have two? Just add an extra mile to that workout tomorrow! Guilt's not a part of our vocabulary around here!!


Lasagne Roll-Ups

Makes 10-12 servings
Prep Time:  25 minutes plus time to make the meat sauce: Bake Time:  20-25 minutes

Ingredients

For the Noodles

  • 20 Lasagne noodles (not the no-bake kind)

For the Meat Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into a small dice
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, cut into a small dice
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • One 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the filling

  • 30 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound part-skim mozzarella, shredded, divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced

The Recipe

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add lasagne noodles and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain carefully, trying not to tear any of them and lay out flat on sheets of aluminum foil to dry out.

2.  Make the Meat Sauce:  Into a large pot, place the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the onion, mushrooms and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, until the veggies start to soften. Transfer from the pot to a plate and set aside. Don't wash out the pan. Add the ground beef and stir, allowing the meat to fully brown over medium-high heat. Drain as much of the fat out as possible and add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cooked veggie mixture. Stir well, lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Set aside. This sauce can be made at least 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. 

3.  Make the Filling:  In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan the eggs, salt, pepper, parsley and basil. Set aside.

4.  Preheat oven to 375ºF. Into a large baking dish, 9x13 or a bit larger if you have or use two smaller pans, spoon some of the sauce onto the bottom. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto a lasagne noodle and roll up. Place into the pan and repeat with remaining noodles. Top with the rest of the sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.

5.  Place the entire dish on a baking tray to catch any drips and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is gooey and melted, sauce is bubbling and rollups are heated all the way through. Serve immediately.

6.  The whole dish can also be made ahead and frozen in one large pan or small loaf pans. If using the loaf pans, you follow the directions exactly the same as for the larger version but you'll probably only be able to fit about 4 into the pan. You'll probably get about 5-6 pans this way and it makes it nice to pull one or two out of the freezer for when you're not trying to serve a whole crowd. Cover the pan or pans with foil tightly and freeze. Don't defrost. Set oven to 350ºF and cook, covered with the foil for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the top is nicely melted and browned.

Enjoy!

Note:  Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Dinnertime by Ree Drummond. I left out the green peppers from the meat sauce and also used low-fat ricotta and mozzarella.

 

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