Today is Wednesday. Today I vow to go to the gym. And I've found that if I proclaim it here, I stay true to my word. Because Monday and yesterday, well, I was a bit lazy. I don't really have a good excuse for why I headed straight home after work both days, other than I simply wasn't in the mood to jump around and sweat. And, somewhere in my head, I reasoned that it was better to have a day of quality rest than a half-hearted workout. Right? Instead, I was in the mood to do absolutely nothing... well, save for eating pizza, watching hockey, and baking cookies. Things requiring minimal effort and yielding maximum pleasure. So, today, I vow to write about a recipe that did require effort (when I made it days ago) but was soooooo worth it. Writing about it means that I'm indirectly being productive, right?
These lasagna roll-ups have been on my radar for months. Months! But, believe me when I say that I've thought about them at least weekly since I first spotted the recipe. "Thought about" seems so everyday, so normal. More like "pined for" and "salivated over" these mushroom and spinach filled noodles. You see, despite my blue eyes, easy-to-burn pale skin, and strictly German and English heritage, I love any and all kinds of Italian food, especially pasta.
Lasagna is a dish I'll make when it becomes chilly outside. A 9x13 pan of it will feed me for a few days, and when cut into individual portions, freezes magnificently for future meals. This past winter I branched out with Ina's portobello mushroom lasagna. My socks were knocked right off with the rich flavors of the bechamel sauce and mushrooms. There are never enough mushrooms in the world, so I'm constantly on the hunt for recipes to showcase them.
These roll-ups are both hearty and unique -- a different take on the traditionally meat and cheese dish -- featuring mushrooms and spinach. I hesitate to mention that it's a little (gulp) lighter, but honestly, you wouldn't even know. Trust me. Three very hearty appetites were satisfied by this as the main course and the chocolate almond pastries for dessert. Plus, its biggest appeal was that it's a 100% hands-on process making the rolls. It does take a little time to assemble, but it's just so much fun! The slippery lasagna noodles and shredded cheese that just happens to sneak into your mouth while assembling -- woops! Come to think of it, this would be a great date night dinner project. Assemble and channel your inner child, bake, enjoy salad and a glass of wine like adults, and devour the
Portobello Mushroom Lasagna Roll-ups
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)
A few notes: I made this dish ahead of time and am glad I did so. It's not difficult but the assembly process does take some time. I'm convinced that allowing the spices and flavors to meld in the refrigerator overnight made the finished product taste even better. Plus, it was assembled one night and popped into the oven the next as soon as I got home from the gym, ready in time for dinner guests. Win win! Also, the original suggested whole wheat lasagna noodles and a little less mozzarella cheese, but those decisions are for you to make. Finally, don't roll too tightly or you'll squeeze the filling right out.
12 lasagna noodles
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups marinara sauce
1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 egg, lightly beaten
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F. Cook the noodles al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain them well and toss with a dash of olive oil (to prevent sticking). Spread them onto waxed paper.
Heat the two teaspoons of oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, a few dashes of pepper and pinch of ground nutmeg.
Spread 1 cup of marinara mushroom sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-12-inch glass baking dish. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto a lasagna noodle. Top with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom sauce mixture. Roll the noodle and place it into the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Spread the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top with grated cheeses.
At this point, if you are making this dish ahead, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours. I also imagine that it would freeze well at this point, too.