Lasagna Roll Ups

I recently came across a recipe for lasagna roll ups. The recipe intrigued me because one of the go-to recipes I regularly make and really enjoy is chicken roll ups, so I thought making a lasagna version might be interesting. I particularly liked the idea of rolling the noodles with a ricotta mixture instead of layering them flat as in traditional lasagna. The original version of this recipe was for veggie lasagna which I knew would probably not be a big hit with my husband so I decided to work with the concept and create a recipe that would appeal to the carnivores of the world. But you can certainly make this a veggie dish and it will be fabulous.

Lesson Learned 1 – There is a lot of prep work to this recipe: If you’re not a prep person, this might not be the recipe for you. I find it cathartic to chop, mince, slice and dice but not everyone feels that way. You also have to cook the lasagna noodles ahead of time and arrange them individually on wax or parchment paper so they remain straight and don’t stick together before you roll them up with the cheese. The key to this recipe is making sure everything is prepped up front, including cooking and separating the noodles. If you do that, assembling it is a breeze. All I can say is that regardless of the work, this recipe is worth it.

IMG_3630Lesson Learned 2 – Cut all the veggies for the sauce to a similar size: This is important so that you don’t overcook or undercook any of them. Don’t throw them all in at the same time. Saute the onions, peppers and mushrooms first, then add the garlic followed by the squash. By the time the squash is crisp tender everything else will be ready as well.

Lesson Learned 3 – Use fresh mozzarella and shred it yourself: I think fresh mozzarella tastes better and it definitely melts better giving you that gooey consistency that we all love. It takes a little extra time but it’s worth it. Then again, if you don’t have the time or want to shorten the prep process you can always use shredded mozzarella.

Lesson Learned 4 – Establish a process for assembling this: You can organize cooking and assembling this recipe any way you want but the key is to be organized when you make it. Think through what process might work the best for you before making this dish. That way you won’t feel overwhelmed by all of the various steps.

Lasagnajpg

Lasagna Roll Ups

This recipe is enough to serve six. And although the lasagna noodles look small when you take them out of the package, they plump substantially when you cook them. One noodle roll up is more than enough for the average appetite.

The original recipe was designed to be frozen once assembled and baked off frozen at a later time. You can certainly do that but if you do make sure to use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the center of the lasagna to ensure it’s heated all the way through.

My husband REALLY liked this recipe. In order to make it more carnivore friendly I added my homemade meatballs on top when I served it. I cooked the meatballs separately and just heated them through before I served them on top of the lasagna. If you don’t have time to make meatballs you can add partially cooked ground italian sausage to the sauce or just do what I did and use a sauce that already had sausage in it. Or you can simply leave it as a veggie dish. Any way you adapt this recipe, I know you will like it.

Lasagna Roll Ups…

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

PASTA:

6 lasagna noodles cooked according to packaged instructions

SAUCE:

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 small sweet pepper, diced

4-6 large cremini mushrooms, chopped small

1/2 medium size zucchini, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 24 ounce jar of pasta sauce (I used Classico with sausage)

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Grated parmesan for sprinkling on top

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

RICOTTA FILLING:

16 oz. ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 egg

1 TBS. flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain them and place them flat on a wax or parchment paper lined sheet pan. Make layers of individual noodles as needed separating each layer with a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Saute the onions, mushrooms and peppers for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds to a minute). Add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the wine and salt and pepper the mixture to taste. Pour in the jarred sauce. Add a can of tomato paste. Stir until combined and warmed through. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Combine all of the ingredients for the ricotta filling. Taste before adding salt and pepper as the parmesan is salty. Salt and pepper to taste. Line up the flat lasagna noodles and divide the ricotta mixture into six equal portions. Spread the mixture over each flat noodle. Roll each noodle tightly with the filling.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan over the sauce and top with a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Place the rolled lasagna noodles on top making two rows of three each. Pour the remaining sauce over the noodles. Generously top with mozzarella and parmesan. Sprinkle the remaining Italian seasoning on top of the cheese.

Tent the casserole dish with foil and bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 5 minutes or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly. You can also turn on the broiler for the last 3 – 5 minutes and put the casserole dish under the broiler. If using the broiler, keep an eye on the casserole so as not to burn the cheese on top.

Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.

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Chicken Roll Ups…

Chicken Roll Ups (right out of the oven)

Chicken Roll Ups (right out of the oven)

I think I may be related to Ina Garten’s husband Jeffrey, at least in the love of chicken department. Like him, anyway you prepare it I just love chicken. Ina makes it for him every Friday. I have it at least once a week and sometimes more. Because of that fact I’m always looking for new chicken recipes and especially the ones that are easy to prepare and super delicious.

This recipe is one of my husband’s favorites. Every time I make it he always comments on how much he enjoys it. I love it for its combination of ingredients – boneless chicken breasts, genoa salami, provolone cheese, asparagus and pasta sauce. In my mind it doesn’t get much better than that.

But I have to admit there is a catch to this recipe. Like any recipe for a roll up, the challenge is rolling it up. It took me a few tries to perfect the technique but hopefully through my lessons learned it will be easier for you. There are a few recipes that I’ve posted so far on this blog that are my go-to favorites. I put this one right up there with one of my all time favorites, my ravioli lasagna recipe. Once you master the art of the roll up you will make this recipe often as it is so simple and yet very flavorful.  So here’s my rating and lessons learned:

ru1Rating A+  The only thing difficult about this recipe is mastering the roll up technique so that all of the ingredients are covered by the chicken breast. Once you’ve got that, the rest is a breeze. You’ve basically got your meat and vegetable all in one. Serve with a simple salad and some crusty bread and you’ll have a dinner that will become a staple in your household! I’ve learned a lot of lessons making this recipe and hopefully these will help you be successful the very first time you make it.

ru2Lesson Learned 1: It is so important to make sure the chicken breast is the right thickness. If it’s too thick you’ll never get it to roll up, if too thin all the provolone will ooze out.  I used to use one breast for each roll up but it seems like they are getting larger and larger and once you pound them out you are left with an enormous roll up. Now I take my boning knife and halve the chicken breast. From there I put them between two pieces of wax paper and pound each to a quarter of an inch thick. I found doing it this way makes for a much more reasonably sized portion and one breast now serves two.ru3

Lesson Learned 2: Figuring out the art of the roll up took a few tries on my part before I perfected it. What I learned is if you put the cheese, meat and asparagus closer to where you begin rolling and leave a little more just plain meat toward the end the process seems to work. As you are rolling the meat and cheese tend to move a little along with you. If you leave some “wiggle room” at the end you can get all of the insides covered with the chicken breast.

Place ingredients more toward the bottom before you roll the chicken

Place ingredients more toward the bottom before you roll the chicken

Lesson Learned 3: I have yet to find a toothpick that will hold the roll up in place without breaking off. Now I use a turkey skewer (the kind you use on your holiday turkey to keep the stuffing in place) and that seems to work well. I use the skewer to secure a flap on the bottom (opposite the asparagus tips) so that cheese does not ooze out and then weave it through the chicken flesh to hold the rest of the roll up in place. Just make sure you remember to tell people that you used a skewer. With the pasta sauce it is not always easily visible and whoever is eating it could be sawing away wondering why they can’t completely cut through the roll up. If I can I remove it before serving. If I can’t remove it, I make sure the person eating it knows it’s there.ru5

Lesson Learned 4: This is probably the biggest lesson I learned from making this – covering the asparagus tips with aluminum foil. You are baking this dish for 45-50 minutes at 350. If you don’t cover the asparagus tips they will turn to mush. If you do cover them they turn out beautifully as can be seen by the picture at the bottom of this blog.

Lesson Learned 5: Put about a quarter of a cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan before you put the roll ups in. That way the roll ups won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Put sauce on the bottom of the dish before adding the roll ups

Put sauce on the bottom of the dish before adding the roll ups

Lesson Learned 5: This recipe is a version that came from a Bertoli pasta sauce add I clipped from the newspaper. The beauty of this recipe is that you can basically use any red sauce that you like and top with any cheeses that you like. The original recipe called for topping the roll ups with the sauce and shredded romano cheese. I like that and so that’s what I do, but you could use a combination of parmesan and romano and you could even top it with some mozzarella for the last ten minutes of the baking process.

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Ready To Go Into The Oven

All the work in this recipe is up front. Once you get the prep work done it’s just a matter of baking and eating it. Serve this with a side salad and crusty bread and you have an easy, flavorful and fun meal.

Easy Chicken Roll Ups

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (halved)

Genoa Salami (12 thin slices)

Provolone Cheese (4-8 slices)

12 Asparagus Spears

1 Jar Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce (15 oz. or larger)

Shredded Romano Cheese (at least 1 cup)

Italian Seasoning

DIRECTIONS:

Place your hand on the top of the chicken breast and using a boning knife start on one side and cut the breast in half (see pictures above). Place each breast between two pieces of wax paper and use a meat mallet or rolling pin and pound moving from the center out until the breast is 1/4 of an inch thick.

Beginning at the bottom of the breast, place one or two pieces of provolone cheese and three slices of salami on top of the cheese making sure to leave about an inch of just plain meat at the top of the breast (see picture above). Trim the woody bottoms off of the asparagus spears and place at the bottom of the breast. Roll the chicken breast so that the cheese, salami and asparagus (except for the tips) are all covered by the meat. Take a skewer and close off the flap a the bottom (the opposite end from the asparagus tips) and lace it through the roll up to secure it in place. Cover the asparagus tips with aluminum foil.

In a casserole dish, spread about 1/4 cup of the pasta sauce to cover the bottom. Place the roll ups in the casserole dish and cover with the remaining pasta sauce. Sprinkle with shredded romano cheese and italian seasoning.

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Remove skewer from roll ups and serve.

A Chicken Roll Up

A Chicken Roll Up