There are things in life that simply match. Beer and pizza. Soup and grilled cheese. Wine and chocolate. Winter and lasagna. In a perfect world, there would be never-ending casserole dishes of lasagna all winter long, fresh out of the oven on all the chilly evenings.
We all crave comforting meals in the heart of winter. Something to warm our bellies, feed our hunger, and nourish our need for rich flavor. For me, lasagna is the ultimate comfort food. It is the perfect meal to serve to your family or guests.
Growing up in a big family, my favorite meal was lasagna, hands down. I would eagerly await dinner while the house filled with the warm smell of herby tomato sauce and cheese baking in the oven. The downside to lasagna is the patience required both while it’s baking and cooling. There was never a time that I didn’t burn the roof of my mouth on molten lasagna cheese, as I couldn’t possibly wait another moment to dive in.
Nowadays, I limit my intake of gluten, and I tend to resort to spaghetti squash when I’m craving something pasta-esque, but lasagna continues to be my favorite comfort food. I love making it meatless with hearty portobello mushrooms, spinach, fresh herbs, and homemade tomato sauce while I pretend like I’m cooking in an authentic Italian kitchen.
If you have never tried making lasagna roll-ups, I recommend it! You get to play with wet noodles to your heart’s delight and there’s nothing weird about it at all. Plus, there’s the rolling. There’s just something about rolling up a cheesy noodle that really tickles me pink.
These lasagna roll-ups are filling, delicious, fun to prepare and they’re easier to serve than traditional lasagna. Plus, the leftovers are always better than the initial meal. Simply pop a few of these roll-ups in the oven to reheat them, and your meals are set for days!
Meatless lasagna roll-ups made with portabella mushrooms and fresh spinach.
Cook Time:50 minutes
Total Time:1 hour
12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions (see note)
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 large portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
6 ounces baby spinach
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
To Prepare the Filling:
In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium and add the onion. Sauté until very soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add the portabella mushrooms and jalapeno and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have softened, browned, and cooked down, about another 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the spinach and cover the skillet, allowing the leaves to steam and wilt, about 3 to 5 minutes (lift the lid periodically to stir everything together). Remove the skillet from heat and allow the veggies to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese (saving the rest for later), and salt and mix everything together. Add in the cooled veggies and mix together well. Set aside.
To Prepare the Sauce:
Note: you can prepare the sauce ahead of time, or use your favorite store-bought sauce. I made this sauce while I was cooking the veggies.
In a skillet, heat the oil to medium and add the onion. Sauté until the onion is beginning to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, stir the sauce together well, and allow it to cook until it comes to a gentle simmer. If you have time, allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes. If not, simply keep it on the burner until you’re ready to use it.
To Assemble the Roll-Ups:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce into a 9” x 13” casserole dish to coat the bottom.
Take one of the lasagna noodles and lay it flat on a plate. Spread a layer of the cheese/vegetable mixture evenly over the length of the noodle. Roll the noodle up and place it in the casserole dish.
Repeat for the rest of the noodles & cheese mixture. Once all noodles are in the casserole dish, pour the sauce evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the roll ups.
Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is just beginning to brown. Allow the roll-ups to cool about 5 to 10 minutes after removing them from the oven before serving.
Cook the lasagna noodles until they’re soft but still al dente. Pour most of the hot water out of the pot, then fill it with enough cold water to cover the noodles. This is the trick I use to make sure the lasagna noodles don’t dry out while I’m waiting to use them. This way, the noodles don’t continue to cook and they will be cool enough to handle once I’m ready to assemble the roll-ups.