Before you try to have me committed, hear me out! It actually makes sense when you think about it.
Hookay so, when you hit up your local Mexican restaurant for some festive fare, each dish tends to follow the same basic formula: tortilla + meat/veg filling + cheese. Occasionally they’ll get fancy and throw beans and rice into the mix too, but those are usually a side item. What sets the tacos apart from the tostadas, the nachos, the chimichanga, and the burrito? The tortilla! The size, shape, and cooking method of the tortilla, to be exact. Aside from that, they’re essentially all the same dish! Sure enchiladas are smothered in sauce and nachos are messier then an octopus with an ice cream cone but when it comes down to it, you’re basically ordering your dinner based on what shape you would like your tortilla in. As for Italian fare? Sub the tortillas for noodles and you’re singing the same tune. Spaghetti, stuffed shells, lasagna, manicotti, and ziti all feature the same rotation of meat/veg, cheese, and sauce with an endless array of noodles to serve them with. So yeah… lasagna is pretty much a taco.
This particular recipe? It’s a bit of a fusion between manicotti and lasagna. It’s also a lot easier to make than either dish, meaning I can throw it together a whole lot faster. Game on.
These roll-ups have been a staple in my mom’s kitchen [and my belly!] for years, and are one of the first dishes I make when it starts getting cold out. Lasagna has this fantastic way of warming up even the coldest winter day. I’ve noticed its super trendy lately to spread the filling on the entire noodle before rolling it up, but I can’t get on board with that method since you’re only getting a small fraction of the filling and a whole lot of noodle! My noodle-to-filling ratio is quite the opposite. Over here, we over-stuff!
Spinach and Cheese Lasagna Rolls
1 medium onion, diced [approx 1-1.5 cups]
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 cups fresh baby spinach [2.5-5oz]
15 oz ricotta cheese
1-1.5 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
to taste: black pepper, salt, parsley, oregano, thyme & garlic powder
1 TBSP Mrs. Dash salt-free Italian blend seasoning or whip out the oregano, thyme, and basil, and season individually.
mozzarella [or extra parm] for topping
torn basil or spinach for topping
t-rex chefsfeel free to add ground turkey, beef, or Italian sausage if you’d like!
brontosaurus chefs make this vegetarian dish even heartier by adding button or portobello mushrooms!
subsitution shenanigans: you might be tempted to use frozen spinach [and you can!] but fresh is better in this case; trust me.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a small pan to medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil [butter works too!] and add your onion. Sauté until tender, adding adding the garlic towards the end. While your onion is cooking, chop or tear spinach into small pieces. In a medium-sized bowl, fold together ricotta, parm/romano cheeses, and spinach spinach together with all your herbs and spices. Add the onion and garlic once they’re tender and translucent. Set aside.
tip: the filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to four days! It’s easily customized with your choice of protein or extra veggies and can even be swirled with pesto for a fun twist. Pasta dishes are super versatile; let your taste buds be your guide!
While you’re prepping the filling, break your lasagna noodles in half and boil until tender as per package instructions. They’ll typically take around 11 minutes. Once tender, drain and set aside.
Line a baking dish with a layer of pasta sauce. Take each noodle, add a heaping spoonful of filling to the center, and fold into a roll. Place the lasagna rolls into your baking dish and pour a heaping pile of sauce on top.
I adore using [this] homemade fire-roasted red sauce and frequently add mushrooms and a boatload of herbs to it, feel free to follow suit or use whichever sauce you have on hand. For a creamier sauce, you can use your favorite vodka sauce or even add a bit of mascarpone cheese or cream to your standard red sauce to mix things up a bit. The batch of lasagna rolls in the photos were made using an all-natural vodka sauce that I found creeping in my pantry. Hello indulgence! Whichever sauce you choose, these lasagna rolls are delicious!
Top with sliced or grated mozzarella and/or parm cheese and a little extra torn spinach or basil if you have it. Cover with foil and bake for approx 20-30 minutes at 350 F