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Lasagna Rolls

January 25, 2009

lasagnarolls6_010209I love food dishes that are fun to make, delicious, and solve problems … all at the same time. Not that I ask for much, or anything.

Italian food isn’t one of my favorite ethnic cuisines, so my thoughts rarely turn to it, with two exceptions: I do have a childish love of spaghetti and meatballs, and I do love a bubbling pan of lasagna. The former, I make all the time; the latter, not so much. Why? It’s the dumbest of reasons, really.

The clean-up.

I don’t know what it is, but melted Italian cheeses are the most maddening substances on earth to clean off of utensils. Especially non-stick utensils. No amount of soaking helps. No amount of scrubbing. There’s only one thing for it: my fingernails. Yuck. (Seriously, I don’t get it. I make mac ‘n cheese all the time, and those cheeses come right off.)

Lasagna, it’s the worst. Cheese, everywhere. On everything. Mentally, it became one of those things I just couldn’t deal with in the kitchen. The sight of a spatula cutting into a thick, juicy slab of lasagna … and coming out coated in that glue. Madness ensues.

Then one day I was browsing, and voilá! Lasagna rolls. Single-serving, spatula-sparing, clean-fingernails lasagna rolls. And the rolling? Oddly fun. Zen, even.

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Lasagna Rolls
Giada De Laurentiis,
  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  1 1/4 cups whole milk
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1 Pinch ground nutmeg
  1 container (15-ounce) whole milk ricotta cheese
  1 package (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  1 large egg, beaten to blend
  3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  12 uncooked lasagna noodles
  2 cups marinara sauce
  1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. 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 into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13×9×2 inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons 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, without touching, atop the bechamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

One Comment
  1. January 26, 2009 5:05 am

    How canoli…I am hungry now! That looks fabulous!

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