Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sausage Veggie Lasagna Roll-ups

I have days when I have crazy carb cravings!  Lasagna always fits the bill.  However there are some things I hate about the baked pasta dish.  It's messy, the filling always spills out back into the pan and it is hard to freeze in individual portions (because who is able to polish off a whole pan of lasagna in one sitting???)
Before we get to all of that... did you know the wide, flat and long lasagna noodle is possibly one of the oldest pasta shapes?  Wiki Researchers say there are a few theories as to how lasagna made it to our plates.  The most popular is that the classic-Italian dish has Greek roots.  Some says the name lasagna comes from the Greek word λάγανον (laganon) which means "a flat piece of pasta dough cut into strips."   However a similar type noodle showed up in a recipe for "Loselyn" in the  first-ever cook book published in England in the 14th century.  That leads some to believe the flat pasta is speaking with an English accent.
via Life In Italy
No matter the origin, the lasagna noodle is a now staple of Italian cuisine.  Traditionally, in southern parts of Italy, the dough is whipped up with just semolina flour and water.  However, in the northern areas of the country where semolina might not be available, pasta makers use eggs and flour.
I have been spotting a lot of lasagna roll-up recipes.  The idea seemed simple and would answer all of my lingering lasagna issues.  BUT I never tried it.  UNTIL NOW!!  Just so you know... I was very pleased with the outcome!!
I packed these lasagna rolls with lots of veggies: spinach, zucchini and mushrooms.  Spicy Italian sausage brings a lot of heat while the luscious ricotta and salty mozzarella provide to perfect amount of creaminess.   Paired with your favorite jarred pasta sauce (yes jarred, because not all of us have time to make our own sauce) and you have a dish that will satisfy even the craziest of carb cravings.

Adapted from Kitchen Belleicious
Makes 9 Roll-ups

  • 9 sheets of lasagna style pasta noodles
  • 1 pound of Italian sausage (mild or hot)
  • 1/2 zucchini, thinly sliced using a knife or mandoline
  • 3 to 4 medium portabella mushroom caps, stem removed and thinly sliced
  • 5 ounce package of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 shredded or grated parmesan
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella (preferably in a log shape) 
  • red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Fill a large pot with water, season with lots of salt and heat on high until the water boils.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook the sausage until crumbled and browned.  Place sausage in a bowl and set aside to cool.  In same skillet add a few teaspoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high.  Add in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you would like it) and cook for about 1 minute.  Then add spinach and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook one minute more.  Place spinach and garlic into another bowl and set aside to cool.  Return same skillet to medium-high heat adding more olive oil to grease the pan and add in sliced portabella mushrooms.  Cook until all mushroom liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are slightly caramelized, about 5 to 8 minutes, then place in bowl and set aside to cool.  
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan and lightly beaten egg.  Stir in cooled sausage and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When water reaches a boil cook the lasagna noodles according to package instructions until "al dente."  Add a few teaspoons of olive oil to help the pasta noodles from sticking to each other.
  5. Once noodles are cooked and drained, place about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on each noodle, spreading mixture out.  Then layer with zucchini slices, mushrooms and fresh mozzarella.  Carefully roll each noodle up.  
  6. In a baking dish, pour about 1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce in the bottom and spread around.  Place lasagna rolls in the baking dish and cover with remaining the sauce in the jar.  Top rolls with remaining 1 cup of parmesan. 
  7. Bake in a 400ºF oven, covered, for about 30-40 minutes until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

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