I love lasagna and starting making lasagna rolls several years ago. It's a great way of really highlighting different kinds of cheese fillings that can get a little lost in the more traditional layers of a lasagna. I used a combination of goat, ricotta and parmesan cheese with spinach and then added a little proscuitto for a flavor contrast and pine nuts for texture. These are a little more work, but it can all be done in advance and just pop the lasagna into the oven to bake when ready for dinner. —TheWimpyVegetarian
ricotta cheese, drained (see note below)
bunches of spinach, washed
soft goat cheese
parmesan cheese, grated, divided
slices proscuitto, diced
toasted pine nuts
half and half, or milk
ground pepper (I use a mixture of black and white pepper)
large lasagna noodles with ruffled edges for 6 rolls
spicy Italian pork sausage, uncooked, casings removed
large onion, diced
red pepper, small diced
garlic cloves, minced
fresh oregano leaves, minced
fresh basil, chopped
pesto (store-bought is fine for this recipe)
28-ounce cans of tomatoes, diced, plus the juices from one can
artichoke bottoms, optional (canned artichoke bottoms are fine here)
In This Recipe
Drain the ricotta cheese for at least an hour before using. The cheese should be dry and cakey before using. To do this, line a colander with a damp piece of cheesecloth and place the ricotta cheese on it. You can also gently squeeze the ricotta between paper towels if it's still wet after an hour.
Blanch the spinach for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Remove and drain. When cool enough to handle, press and squeeze as much moisture out as you can. Roll in a towel and squeeze the last bit of moisture out. Remove from towel and chop. Set aside.
Combine the cheeses together using only 2 ounces of the parmesan cheese, reserving the rest for later. Fold in the proscuitto and pine nuts. Set aside while you make the bechamel base. I do a slightly browned butter bechamel for this filling. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat and wait until it's a soft golden brown before adding the flour. Whisk the flour in and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add the half and half, constantly whisking the mixture. Once the mixture is completely smooth, place the pot back on the heat and cook until the mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat again and fold in the cheese mixture. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the lasagna according to the instructions on the box, cooking until it is just al dente. Run under cool water and aside until cool enough to handle while you make the tomato sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and cook the sausage and sauté until crumbly and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add olive oil to the pan if necessary and sauté the onion and pepper. Once they begin to soften (about 15 minutes), add the garlic and oregano. Cook 1 minute.
Add the wine and cook until almost completely absorbed. Add the basil, sausage, pesto, tomatoes and juices from one can, and tomato paste. Cook until thickened, about 20 minutes while you make the lasagna rolls.
To make the lasagna rolls, lay out each noodle individually on a work space. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of cheese filling onto the noodle and smooth out along the noodle. Starting at one end, roll each noodle up.
When the sauce is ready, spoon some sauce onto the bottom of a 8" X 8" baking pan. Make sure the bottom is completely covered. Place the lasagna rolls in the dish, seam side down. If you use artichoke bottoms, they go down first with the lasagna rolls laying on top. Ladle more sauce around and on top of the lasagna rolls and bake until starting to bubble (about 25 minutes). Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese on top and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
To serve, use a large serving spoon to lift each lasagna roll (and artichoke bottom, if using) onto a plate. Ladle some of the sauce around it. Serve with garlic bread and a fresh green salad and enjoy!