|So yesterday morning, I'm at work.. enjoying my Tropicana Coolata and a croissant while reading my blogroll (hey, they can't expect me to work until I'm fully awake, right??). I clicked on Cream Puffs in Venice, with the hope that Ivonne had posted yet another fabulous recipe, and the first thing I see is this drool inspiring picture of a slice of lasagna. Holy crap. I quickly read through her post, beautifully written as always, and then cursed my luck (or lack thereof) for not having an oven and the ingredients to make this lasagna right then and there.|
Drooling while reading Ivonne's site is nothing new for me. She's amazing. Simply amazing. But.. to drool over lasagna is truly amazing for me. Not a huge fan. Nope. Well let's see.. I guess that isn't entirely true. I love lasagna, but the only lasagna I've ever ate is my mom's lasagna. It's wonderful, do not get me wrong, but it's rich.. ohhhh so rich. She piles on the ricotta and thick slabs of provolone cheese between the layers, along with ground beef and my family's marinara sauce and MY GOD it's good, but I can't eat much more than a small slice of it. And then I'm good for like.. months.
Ivonne's lasagna is different for me as there is no meat - which is fine with me. Also, her sauce.. she makes it by cooking veal in the sauce. I can just wrap my mind and taste buds around the concept of how much flavor that would infuse in a rich tomato sauce. Unfortunately, I don't eat veal. So I've e-mailed her with the question of what other kind of meat I could use. You see, this has turned into a lasagna emergency for me. I need NEED to make this tonight - tomorrow at the very latest. I have a flank steak in the freezer.. I'm playing with the idea of making a braciole and using that to cook in the sauce.. but I wonder if the flank steak is too lean to really impart any flavor? I'm new to the flank steak.. so if anyone has any advice, I'd sure appreciate it!
So as I wait for Ivonne's reply.. I remembered that I haven't posted the lasagna rolls I made a few weeks ago. I saw this recipe on Everyday Italian, staring Giada DeLaurentiis, or as I like to call her.. The Head. I've been making these rolls for well over a year now and they are truly terrific for a quick and light lasagna fix. I make up at least a dozen at a time and freeze the extra rolls for those nights when I just don't have much time.
My recipe is a little different from The Head's. I substitute ground round or italian sweet sausage (or both sometimes!) for the proscuitto in the filling mixture and I omit the bechamel sauce - since it didn't do much for us the first time I made this recipe.
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 lb. ground round or sweet italian sausage (Or 1/2 lb. each)
2 large eggs, 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
4 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat brown the meat. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool.
Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, cooled meat, eggs, 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-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour about 1.5 cups of marinara sauce on bottom of 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 marinara 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.