There’s nothing wrong with a classic lasagna constructed layer by layer in a casserole dish, but this easy lasagna roll-ups recipe is a fun change of pace—that also happens to be vegetarian. And they make use of pantry staples: dried pasta, jarred marinara, and frozen spinach. Win-win-win.
It was originally created by former Chowhound photographer Chris Rochelle several years ago; below, his introduction to the dish:
Why would someone do this to lasagna, giving it the pigs-in-a-blanket treatment? Are individual rolled lasagnas better than the normal noodle stack you bake in a dish? These are questions I asked myself as I saw lasagna roll-up recipe after lasagna roll-up recipe on various food blogs. Were they a gimmick? I decided to find out.
After making roll-ups for myself, I became a convert. I played around with the recipe—for me, using two pasta sheets per roll-up makes a serving that’s nice and substantial. The pasta dominates the texture, but I’ve put in a lot of ricotta, mozzarella, and a huge amount of spinach.
They’re easy to pack for lunch, but the real reason I like roll-ups is probably the same reason the food bloggers who inspired me do: They’re fun to do. Also, I wanted to impress a small child (my daughter). I pretty much nailed it.
What You Need to Make Lasagna Roll-Ups
- 1 (16-ounce) pack lasagna noodles (22 noodles; regular, not no-boil)
- Vegetable or olive oil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 (15- to 16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
- 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (17-ounce) bags frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
- 2 (22-ounce) jars marinara sauce
Note: This makes 11 substantial servings.
Pyrex Deep 9x13-Inch Dish with Lid, $14.97 at Walmart
A large, deep baking dish is ideal for holding your rolls.
Steps to Making Lasagna Roll-Ups
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Boil the noodles, removing them when they are mostly cooked but still very al dente. Drain and cool under cold water. In a bowl, add some oil and, with your hands, coat both sides of each noodle.
3. Mix together the egg, ricotta, half of the parmesan, and all of the mozzarella. Add salt and pepper.
4. On a large work surface, lay out the noodles in rows of 2 lengthwise. (I overlapped the noodles either under or over slightly to make the rolling easier and the roll-ups hold together better.) You should have 11 rows total.
5. Evenly spread out the cheese mixture on each row of noodles.
6. Evenly distribute the spinach.
7. Roll the noodles and when you get to the end of each roll set the noodle down on the end seam to keep it together.
8. Take an extra-large baking dish or whatever you’ve got and cover the bottom with 1 jar of the marinara sauce.
9. Place the noodle rolls on top of the sauce and then cover with half of the remaining jar of sauce.
10. Cover the dish with foil and bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes.
11. Heat up the last of the marinara sauce and serve it on top with the remaining parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Make It Your Own
You can easily change up the filling for these depending on your preferences or what you have on hand. Ground beef (or ground chicken or turkey), artichoke hearts, sauteed kale or other hearty greens, different cheese blends, and so on all work. And you can make the marinara sauce from scratch if you want.
Photos, styling, and animated GIF by Chris Rochelle.