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.

Lasagna Roll-Ups
Makes 11 substantial servings

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

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 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.

Step 3: Mix together the egg, ricotta, half of the Parmesan, and all of the mozzarella. Add salt and pepper.

Step 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.

Step 5: Evenly spread out the cheese mixture on each row of noodles.

Step 6: Evenly distribute the spinach.

Step 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.

Step 8: Take an extra-large baking dish or whatever you’ve got and cover the bottom with 1 jar of the marinara sauce.

Step 9: Place the noodle rolls on top of the sauce and then cover with half of the remaining jar of sauce.

Step 10: Cover the dish with foil and bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes.

Step 11: Heat up the last of the marinara sauce and serve it on top with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Photos, styling, and animated GIF by Chris Rochelle

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