Mmm, I love Lasagna. We all do here in this house. What I don't like is having to wait an extra 15-20 minutes for it to cool off and set up once it's done, but that's mostly because I'm impatient when it comes to food. Cutting into lasagna right out of the oven always results in a landslide serving of mush…albeit, delicious mush. You know what I mean, don't ya. The solution? Make these perfectly portioned Lasagna Rolls instead! It's everything lasagna, only better! I have been making lasagna for years but the last few times I've cooked up this pan of saucy, cheesy goodness, I've taken a different approach than the standard, traditional layered one. Rolled up Lasagna is the way to go for me nd I actually prefer this way for a few reasons.
First and foremost reason is that each roll stays intact and you don't have any fillers sliding out. Yay!! The second reason, one roll is usually enough for a "normal" serving amount but, who am I kidding? We aren't normal so our serving portions end up at 1.5 - 2 rolls a person. My third reason, twelve to fifteen rolls can be squeezed into a standard 9 x 13" baking dish, depending on how stuffed you make them. How's that for feeding a small army…or lasagna loving crowd! And reason number four, it's easy to make and serve!
Let's Get Prepped
As always, get everything measured out and prepped so things go smooth and quick. Find a really good playlist, crank it up then get to work. Bring your water to a boil and cook your noodles. Don't forget to salt the water really good. Spray foil sheets with non-stick and set aside. Prepare the ricotta cheese mixture and keep in the fridge until needed. Cook and drain your sausage and ground beef mixture, then sauce it up. And just as a head's up, you'll need counter or table space to create an assembly line of sorts. Once pasta noodles are ready, carefully drain and lay them individually on the non-stick prepared foil sheets. The non-stick really helps keep them … well, from sticking to each other. Laying them out like so also helps cool them down quicker for easier handling during the rolling process. Plus, this way you also avoid tearing the noodles up. Once you've laid your noodles out, get the ricotta mixture and the shredded mozzarella cheese from the fridge, placing them beside the noodles on your counter/table.
Let's Roll…Lasagna Style
I find it's quicker and less confusing if you smear the ricotta cheese mixture on ALL of the noodles before moving on to the next step. Living with limited counter space, it's simpler doing this and then placing the ricotta mix bowl in the sink to free up some space. And, it's also pretty great when you have a willing partner who'll wash it for you as you move along with each step… am I right 😉 Next up is the shredded Italian cheese. Sprinkle it on top of the ricotta mixture like the middle picture below. If you prefer it super cheesy, then add a little more. Just try to keep it centered and not let it spill over the edges. Now we come to the meat filling. I use a slotted spoon when scooping the meat as I add it to the rolls. This way, I get more meat and not as much of the sauce. I don't like too much sauce inside the rolls…I prefer to save as much of the sauce as possible to flood the top of the noodles. But feel free to sauce it up if it's what you prefer. As you see in the third picture below, I've taken a noodle strip and rolled it up, keeping the seam on the bottom. That helps keep it from unrolling.
After you've rolled up all your noodles, grab your baking dish (a 9 x 13" works perfectly here) and spread a little of the remaining meat sauce on the bottom. Place each noodle roll with the seam side down, in your pan. Like I said…FIFTEEN ROLLS! Makes me wanna cry, it's so pretty :) On top of this, pour what remains of the meat sauce all over. Use a fork to help crack a little space between the rolls and really get that sauce in there! Get the corners and sides of the pan sauced as well. Cover with foil then bake.
Some like to add the mozzarella cheese on top of the noodles before baking but I find that most of the cheese ends up sticking to the foil and going to waste. I've done it myself and even when I dome the foil so that it doesn't touch the cheese, it somehow magically manages to get on it anyway! So I recommend baking without the cheese on top and then after it's done baking, remove from oven and take the foil off. THEN add your cheese, leave the foil OFF and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. [gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="3397,3398"] Now, just grab your plate and devour! It is delicious comfort food that will make your belly happy! Plus, it feeds a crowd and if you're into leftovers to help keep lunch costs down, this is worth the effort and time put into it. Just add a side salad and lunch is done. Easy, peasy! By breaking down the entire process (like I've done), you can make this any day of the week. If you are a lasagna lover like me, you'll love my Warm & Hearty Lasagna Soup, which is another tasty alternative to this traditional dish. With fall on the horizon (and winter following close behind), it'll be a delicious addition to your soup rotation menu!
- 1 lb Lasagna Noodles
- 8 oz Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)
- 8 oz Italian Blend Cheese (shredded)
Meat & Sauce
- 2 lbs Ground Beef
- 1 lb Mild Sausage (casing removed)
- 1/4 Onion, small diced
- 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1 tsp Basil (dried)
- 1 tsp Oregano (dried)
- 1/2 tsp Tarragon (dried)
- 1/2 tsp Thyme (dried)
- 2 24 oz cans Pasta Sauce
- 2 14.5 oz cans Diced Tomatoes (Garlic Flavored (preferred))
- 2 15 oz Ricotta Cheese (tubs)
- 1 tbsp Parsley Flakes
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Tarragon
- 2 Eggs
- Bring large stock pot of water to a boil. Season with salt. Once it comes to a rolling boil, cook noodles according to package directions. Prepare a large sheet of foil by spraying with non-stick and set aside. Once noodles are cooked, drain and carefully lay them out on the prepared foil sheet in a single layer.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Cover and place bowl in fridge until needed.
Meat & Sauce
- Remove casing from sausage and mix with ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and brown meat. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to scoop out meat, leaving oil in pan. Return pan to stove and add onion, saute until translucent or about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Next, add spices and continue cooking on low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Then, add cooked meat, pasta sauce and diced tomatoes with juices. Cover and bring to a simmer, then turn stove off and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 (F) degrees. Smear a layer of ricotta filling on each of the noodles until they've all been done.
- Next, sprinkle the Italian cheese over the ricotta layer of each noodle.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop the meat mixture, allowing some of the sauce to drain, then add as the next layer on the noodles. Once all the noodles have been topped with meat mixture, scoop a little sauce into a 9 x 13" baking pan and coat the bottom. Set pan aside.
- Roll each noodle, being careful not to over squeeze so that filling doesn't spill out. With seam side down, place roll in pan. Repeat until all the noodles have been rolled and pan is full. Pan should fit approximately 12-15 rolled noodles, depending on how full they've been stuffed.
- Pour remaining meat sauce over the rolls and use a fork to crack/separate rolls enough to allow the sauce to seep in between them. Make sure to get the sauce between the pan side walls and noodles as well.
- Cover with foil and cut a couple slits in the foil to vent. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil cover. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese all over and return to oven WITHOUT foil cover. Bake until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve.
Cori - xoxo