Let's talk about lasagna. When I think lasagna I think family get togethers, potlucks, big meals. It's fairly quick and easy and even though there are a ton of variations of the theme, it's a dish you can rely on. And if you're ordering out, you pretty much know what you are getting. Of course there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. And hopefully you come across the GREAT! We've all had all of the above. And over time we've learned the key tips and tricks when making it...like letting it sit before cutting, so that it doesn't just pool all over your plate in a soupy mess. Or not to over sauce it, because it should be about the flavor of every ingredient and not just a blur of red.
Well, these roll ups are kinda like a fool proof answer to any lasagna doubts you might have. And I have to say...the weather is so hot right now and after eating these it DID NOT feel as if we ate bricks. These are definitely a lighter, neater, and brighter variation on the lasagna theme. I know lasagna is one of the more indulgent foods but I'd say this is maybe one of the least indulgent versions I've had. You do not have to forsake lasagna just because you are eating lighter or healthier. We used whole wheat lasagna noodles here and they were totally great...and the bulk of the filling consists of plum tomato slices.
We absolutely love these roll ups. They've got the classic fresh flavors of a Caprese salad. They're easy and quick and much healthier. We love that they're a perfectly portioned meal, and so easy to freeze for future nights. But full disclosure...Aaron ate two of 'em. They are just so delicious! Lasagna doesn't have to be a big plate of heavy duty sit on the couch all night stuff.
Here is what you will need:
8 lasagna noodles uncooked (we used whole wheat)
12 oz low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese (put some to the side for sprinkling on top)
3/4 cup low fat Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated good quality Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 - 4 medium Plum tomatoes thinly sliced (you'll need 32 slices)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
2 cups Marinara sauce ( we used our quick, easy and delicious homemade sauce)
*Simple Tomato Sauce:
2 cups chopped tomatoes ( I use Pomi brand and LOVE it )
2 teaspoons olive oil
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
dash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian herbs
dash of salt & pepper
dash of sugar (optional)
*If you opted to make your own simple tomato sauce, which takes like 2 mins, grab a small sauce pan. Set to medium heat, Add your olive oil. Now add your garlic, and cook till fragrant, about a minute...don't let it get brown. Now add your crushed red pepper flakes and stir around a bit. Add your tomatoes, herbs, and balsamic vinegar. Stir. Add your salt, pepper and sugar. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now for the lasagna roll ups:
First Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. And prepare your lasagna noodles according to the package. Drain your noodles but DO NOT rinse them. They shouldn't be dripping with water. Lay them out on a piece of parchment or wax paper on your counter.
Ok, let's get that filling going! In a large bowl whisk together your ricotta and egg until well blended.
Now, mix in your Parmesan cheese and most of your Mozzarella cheese. Just hold on to enough of the mozzarella to sprinkle on top before baking. And add dash or two of pepper.
Now that you've got your filling mixed, each length of noodle gets 1/4 cup of the filling. We found the perfect way to do this is using a fork and a 1/4 cup measure. We loved that the cheese wasn't a goopy mess. The high quality grated parmesan binds it into a neat spreadable paste.
Now layer on 4 plum tomato slices. Space them maybe a 1/4 to a half inch apart and leave a little room at the beginning of the noodle to make starting your roll easier. And make sure to top each tomato with with fresh basil! Me and Aar want his and her scents to wear that perfectly capture the essence of fresh basil.
Roll your noodles up to the end, putting the seam on the bottom.
This reeeally couldn't be easier! It could actually be a super fun recipe to do with the littles! These things are cute!
You really could use one baking dish, but we had a few other recipes going while we made these and seriously need to pick up some more baking dishes. So we went with two 8 x 8 glass dishes and it worked out great. Spread about 1/4 cup of your sauce in the bottom of the dish, and lay your roll ups in seam side down. Now top each roll up with about 2-3 tablespoons of sauce.
Using your spoon, do your best to spread the sauce to cover all of your pasta. Just baste them so that they keep moist while baking. We snuggled our roll ups together and made sure to bring the sauce up the sides .
Now you can sprinkle your remaining mozzarella on top. We also added a bit more Parmesan and a bit of our favorite good quality Pecorino Romano. Pop your dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 mins.
Our roll ups came out pretty darn perfect. Not a dry spot on them.
Garnish with some more fresh basil and a smidge more grated parmesan and serve!
These hold together amazingly, the flavors burst, the tomatoes remain bright, and you can taste each individual ingredient. We didn't feel like we ate a bunch of goop and we really had a good time making them!
We hope you'll give them a try! And if you do...come on back and leave us a comment/link!
xo Jenny & Aaron
*adapted from Cooking Classy