I had a little bit of extra time on my hands yesterday afternoon and was really in the mood for pasta. We had a big fire going, football on TV … my girls were building a gingerbread tree (don’t get excited, it was from a kit), and red sauce was calling my name. I took a peek at the sale ad and whadaya’ know? Most of the ingredients for my favorite lasagna are on special this week!
I love this recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis. It’s slightly more dressed up than your average lasagna, but at the same time, delicious, family-friendly comfort food. Two sauces make it extra special, and a little bit of spinach in the filling is a great way to get your punks to painlessly channel their inner Popeye!
As if you need another reason to make this dish, these pretty rolls freeze beautifully and would be a fabulous main course to have on hand for when things start to go really crazy in the next few weeks. I would not hesitate to serve them to company; in fact, I’m going to make another pan today to have in the freezer for when my parents come – my dad will love it!
A few notes: don’t be afraid of the béchamel sauce. If you’ve never made one before, it’s really quite simple and not too terribly time consuming. Besides, you stand a very good chance of impressing yourself and others when you tell them that you made a béchamel from scratch! Go, you!
Also, Giada has a terrific recipe for a simple marinara that is supposed to be the second sauce in this dish. I saved time yesterday by using a jarred sauce (the lovely Gia Russa sauce that’s on special). Choose your favorite, or go to foodnetwork.com for Giada’s “Quick Marinara”.
LASAGNA ROLLS WITH TWO SAUCES
Source: Giada’s Family Dinners, by Giada De Laurentiis. Pp. 98-99
- 2 T. butter (Alcam brand is on sale)
- 4 t. flour
- 1 ¼ c. whole milk
- ¼ t. salt
- 1/8 t. ground black pepper
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 – 15 oz. container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 – 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (Bird’s Eye is on sale)
- 1 c. plus 2 T. freshly grated Parmesan (and if you use the stuff in the green can we can’t be friends any more. Choosing the Sendik’s brand will improve your dish and maintain our friendship.)
- 3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped (I left this out and didn’t miss it)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ¾ t. salt, plus more for the pasta water
- ½ t. ground black pepper
- 12 dried lasagna noodles (Barilla Brand is on sale)
- Butter, for baking dish
- 2 c. marinara sauce (again, Gia Russo’s is on special, or choose your favorite!)
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella (Sargento Shredded cheeses are on sale)
Melt the butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, whisking continuously. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg in to the sauce. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, prosciutto (if using), egg, ¾ teaspoons of salt, and pepper until well blended.
Bring a very large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Drain well. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.
Preheat the oven to 450. Butter a 13×9” glass baking dish. Spread the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared pan.
Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, and then spread about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Roll the noodles up and arrange the rolls, seam sides down and not touching one another, atop the cream sauce. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls, then sprinkle with the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Cover the dish tightly with foil (it’s ready to be frozen if you choose, thaw in the fridge overnight before continuing). Bake until the rolls are heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the cheese on top is golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot. Transfer the sauce to a sauceboat and serve alongside.
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