Friday, December 30, 2011

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

My mom's birthday is right between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we are at our busiest. Since my mom does so much for others I like to make her a special birthday dinner every year to celebrate. Both of us adore lasagna but it can be very labor intensive and a little messy in presentation. These rolls still require some work but the resulting dish is definitely worthy of company. I started by making the homemade ricotta and mixed the spinach filling 2 days before our dinner. The night before I prepared the béchamel and assembled the final dish. When I arrived home all I had to do was pop the pan in the oven and make a salad.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Béchamel Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

2 cups Homemade Ricotta
10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce or your favorite marinara sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the béchamel sauce.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Recipe can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Remove pan from refrigerator and preheat the oven to 450°F.  Bake the lasagna rolls until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.