So, there’s this girl I know. Well, not a girl, a young lady really. But when I was her age … and yes, I was her age once, I wasn’t born THIS OLD, ya know … being called a young lady made be visibly blanch. She’s becoming very dear to me. In my family, cooking for and feeding people is a way to show (some) love.
There’s a little glitch in showing this Italian, kitchen-esque type of love to this otherwise lovely girl. She’s a vegetarian. Nothing with a face. Nothing with a soul. Hmmm … tricky. Never gave much thought to strictly vegetarian dishes, and fortunately, she’s not vegan, but tricky going for me just the same.
Oh! We need to add another level of cooking angst here … her sister is NOT a vegetarian (but that’s a whole ‘nuther magilla which we will get to in recipes and days to come) and, of course, there’s the carnivore. How do you feed all these different needs with one dish and keeping your hair on your head and not clenched between your fingers having just been torn from your head?
Must be yummy. Must have no faces or soul. Must be hearty. I can do this. I know I can.
I came across this Giada de Laurentiis recipe from Everyday Italian for Spinach Lasagna Rolls. The original recipe calls for prosciutto (oh, you don’t know what you’re missing) and a bechamel sauce. I opted to leave out the prosciutto and swap the bechamel for tomato sauce. Salad. Garlic bread. Dinner is ready.
And while it has no faces, this dish certainly has soul!
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
- 1 C plus 2 T grated Parmesan
- 1 C shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
- 3/4 t salt, plus more for salting water
- 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 T olive oil
- 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
- 2 C marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and add a tablespoon of oil.
NOTE: I normally don’t add oil when I’m cooking pasta, but with the lasagna noodles it seems to help keep them from sticking together and becoming a massive clump.
Cook the pasta until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the pasta in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.
Butter or spray with cook spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour about 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish and spread to cover. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread a large spoonful (about 3 tablespoons worth) of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle.
Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.
Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, on top of the marinara sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls.
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.
NOTE: You can gild the lily a bit here and add a cup of shredded mozzarella on top of the marinara. If you choose to do this, after 20 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.