Marrying into an Italian family, we always have Italian food at Christmas time over the traditional ham. Lasagna is a favorite in our family, but I rarely find myself making it because it takes so much time, and I knew there had to be a better way. So, I did what probably brought you here, and went on Pinterest to find an alternative, and I found it… lasagna roll-ups.
These three-cheese spinach lasagna roll-ups are the perfect Christmas appetizer filled with a cheesy spinach ricotta mixture and are topped with the best homemade pasta sauce ever! They are a great make-ahead or freezer meal and are quick and easy to prepare. With just a few simple ingredients, you can make a meal your whole family will love in less than 30 minutes!
Before you look at the ingredient list, and say ARE YOU CRRRRRAZY… theres so many ingredients, remember, you can always make things ahead, or use store bought varieties, or whatever. We always have the sauce around our house, so when I make this, it’s really just a matter of getting the ingredients for the filling.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles – I used Barilla, but you can use your favorite brand of pasta
make sure to get the oven ready, I’ll explain later.
mozzarella cheese, to sprinkle over the top
For The Filling:
2 cups spinach, wash it and chop it up nice and fine (or use your food processor and chop it up)
1 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese, well drained
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
Alright, so lets get cooking.
The pasta sauce is ultimately the first thing you should start cooking, like first thing in the morning and letting it cook all day, if you don’t have the time for this, cook it over night, or cook it the day before. Or… if you must, use a jarred pasta sauce. Using this recipe for crockpot spaghetti sauce is super easy, and it’s delicious.
First, soak your pasta. Use either boiling water, or the hottest water from your kitchen sink, and fill a large casserole dish. Place lasagna noodles in the dish, and let pasta soak in water for about 5 minutes, or until soft. The less you soak at a time, the quicker they will soften. Also, if you keep replacing your water with hot water, it will speed up the process.
While your pasta is soaking, set up a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface and start making the filling.
Make the cheesy spinach and ricotta filling by mixing all ingredients together in a large bowl with a rubber spatula. Make sure everything is well combined and let it sit.
Meanwhile, remove your pasta from the hot water, and place it on the kitchen towels you laid out earlier.
One at a time place a lasagna noodle on a clean work surface and add 2-3 tbsp of the spinach and cheese mixture. Shmear it around the noodle with the back of a spatula. This could also be the time to add your favorite lasagna ingredients, and make it your own. How about, ground beef and italian sausage or adding some fresh tomatoes and basil? The possibilities are really endless. Check out Pinterest, there are pages and pages of yummy lasagna ideas!
Roll your pasta. Simply tuck the end in, and roll it up. Once you’re done, set the roll aside, and continue filling and rolling the rest of your lasagna.
Cut it up. If you wish. Now would be the time to cut your lasagna rolls into bite-size pieces. Use a sharp knife, and dip it in water, and then slice your lasagna rolls into equal sizes. Using the pasta I used, I got 3 pieces per roll.
Fill, roll and cut. Keep filling, rolling and cutting your lasagna rolls until you have used either all of your spinach and cheese mixture, or all of your lasagna noodles. Arrange lasagna rolls with the seam side DOWN on a sheet tray lined with parchment about 1/4-1/2″ apart.
Top with sauce. Time to use that yummy, yummy sauce you made in your crockpot! I just used a large kitchen spoon, and put a spoonful over the top of each roll.
Almost done! Top with cheese. Just sprinkle a little bit of shredded mozzarella over the top, and maybe a little dash of parmesan if you’re feeling sassy!
Bake those babies! Bake lasagna rolls in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the pasta has softened and cheese has melted.
Serve em up with a little sauce. And dig in and enjoy! What I love so much about this recipe is the fact that you can sneak in all of that spinach and your kids (or husbands) won’t even know it’s in there! It’s the perfect red, white and green recipe for Christmas!