Spinach Lasagna Rolls

done

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.

 

 

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese &Bread Crumbs

It’s that time of month again – Secret Recipe Club time! I have to tell you, I am amazed at how much fun this is and how much I look forward to being paired with amazing food bloggers!

This month I was assigned to a wonderful blog called SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl. Desi has so many wonderful recipes over there that it was really difficult for me to choose just one! And then I came across it! Giada de Laurentiis’  Mashed Potatoes with Parmigiano and Bread Crumbs from Giada’s Family Dinners.

Mashed potatoes are one of those dishes that you serve and everyone feels like they’re home.

My darling had been away all summer working. I keep asking what he’d like to have for dinner. “Food. Food you’ve cooked, Mom. Other than that, I don’t care.”

Sigh. Just once I would like to say – “Hey, what would you like for dinner?” and actually get a response. Well, a response besides “I don’t know.” I don’t have a recipe for “I don’t know” and since they seem to request it so often, I am afraid of repeating myself too often by making it!

My son’s favorite cold any weather comfort food is meatloaf, mashed potatoes and string beans.

So we have a trifecta – the Secret Recipe Club, the triumphant return of the half-starved prodigal son, AND cold, stinky, rainy, summer-is-over, weather!

This recipe is really very simple and delicious. My guys are mashed potato purists, but that didn’t stop them from gobbling this up!

  • 1 T butter
  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 C milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter, melted AND 1 T butter
  • 3/4 C grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T plain bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a 13×9 inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and return potatoes to the same pot. Mash well.

Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 of the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Stir the bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead of time, up to the point right before you bake it. Cover and chill. This recipe is also easily halved!

Desi, thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes with me! I hope I did this one justice!

There’s still time to stop by my wonderful Giveaway ~ $100 American Express gift card! So simple – follow this link and leave a comment! Winner will be picked September 29th!



Edible Containers – Daring Cooks

Really intriguing thought, don’t ya think? That’s what I thought when I saw this as a challenge over at Daring Cooks. Such a good idea that it’s a joint Daring Cooks/Daring Bakers challenge.

Perhaps it’s the thought of not washing a dish that intrigues me. But, wait, that can’t be so. The edible container still has to sit on something, doesn’t it?

So goes that theory.

The question became … sweet … savory … sweet … savory?

I thought perhaps a spun sugar bowl with beautiful strawberries … (stop laughing) … okay, I am laughing too. Who am I kidding?

Savory? Looking through the mountainous recipes next to my bed I came across frico – crispy discs of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – which can be molded into shapes. I found my solution.

I used Giada’s frico cup method –

1 1/2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

I didn’t use the smallest holes on my box grater. I didn’t use the largest. I used the ones in between. If I had any sense I would have taken a photos of the grater to show you, sense wasn’t something I was necessarily born with!

Sadly, I wasn’t really holding out hope for this working.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Definitely use a silpat or parchment paper. Use 1/4 cup for each cup, flattening it out to a diameter of 4 1/2 to 5 inches.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

NOTE: My second batch I baked for less time, about 6 1/2 minutes, and had a better result.

Working quickly and using a thin spatula, transfer the frico to a muffin tin and put a glass inside to shape.

NOTE: ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME HERE OR WHAT? Totally didn’t work. I tried using the bottom of the muffin tin, but the muffin cups were not deep enough. I tried a juice glass. NOPE. The bottom of my cordial glasses were the perfect size.

If you don’t have the frico molded before they start to stiffen, pop them back into the oven for 20 seconds or so – they become pliable again.

Now that I had the edible container part sorted out, what to put in them?

I was roasting a cut up chicken (surprise, surprise) for dinner with Mediterranean spices and thought I would serve a tomato, cucumber and parsley salad to go along. Usually I toasted pita bread and break it into shards to sprinkle over the top, but the penny dropped and I thought what a great way to use the salad AND my beautiful frico cups.

I removed the seeds and pulp and then diced a couple of tomatoes. Then I peeled, removed the seeds from and diced a cucumber.  Chopped some parsley. A simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano and we were all set!

The frico are terrific. A little bite of crispy cheese, some yummy salad. A lot of oooohing and aaahing and a lotta gone! Isn’t that the end result we all want?

Tackling something I found a little intimidating is so empowering!