Growing up, the only lasagna I knew came frozen in a box. Don’t get me wrong– I loved it. But I find that when I make a giant pan of homemade lasagna for our household of 2, we only end up eating about half the pan before we get tired of it. It’s kind of a pain to serve up and it can get messy portioning out traditional layered lasagna for our lunches. This recipe for lasagna rolls takes care of the mess involved in cutting, serving, and tupperware-ing portions of lasagna.
I am a big fan of veggie lasagna. I think using vegetables helps to cut the richness of the ricotta and I don’t really miss the meat (although Derek occasionally mentions that they would be better with some meat…). This recipe is quite versatile and you can definitely add some meat (sausage, turkey, beef, etc.) if that suits your fancy. I also like a bit of heat in this recipe and am quite liberal with the red pepper flakes. Feel free to adjust the spice level to suite your tastes.
2 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 shallot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15 ounces of ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend (I used McCormick Gourmet), or thyme
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (jarred or homemade)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim)
12 lasagna noodles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the lasagna noodles. Cook according to the package directions and drain the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking to each other or, drain them and then put them back into the pot with cold water so they can swim around.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and saute the zucchini, asparagus, shallot, peppers, and garlic for about 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Set aside.
While the veggie mixture cools down, mix together the ricotta, egg, dried herbs or thyme, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Stir in the sauteed veggie mixture as well as the panko bread crumbs.
To assemble the lasagna rolls, spread a scant 1/4 cup (approx. 3-4 tablespoons) of the ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle and starting at one end, roll each noodle up, like a jelly roll. Place each roll seam side down in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish spread with 1 cup of marinara sauce. Once you have all the lasagna rolls in the dish, top with the remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I had a lot of sauteed vegetables and so only added about 2 1/2 cups of the cooked veggies to the ricotta mixture. I saved the rest to have with pasta or rice for a quick and easy lunch later in the week. Also, you could easily add some protein (ground turkey/beef, hot/sweet Italian sausage) to the veggie mix to make this meal a little heartier. I would suggest adding 1 cup of (cooked) meat to 1 1/2 cups of the veggies.