Lasagna Rolls

I thought about making these for a while. This most recently expired week, I had a few guests over (family and church family) on Thursday. I decided a few days ahead of time that I would finally try these lasagna rolls. My stepmother had just recently gone grocery shopping, and generously provided me with some tofu, and my dad had asked if I needed anything else, and bought me some other things that I would need for the lunch. Thursday morning, I got to cooking.

By then, I had forgotten the actual recipe, but I had watched my dad make lasagna, and even “helped” him a few times (mostly helped by frying the eggplant), some years ago. We didn’t have any eggplant this time, but did have some spinach in the fridge. I had made ricotta tofu, which is a vegan substitute for ricotta cheese, so I had a pretty good idea what I was doing. I’m sure I prayed for God’s help in the kitchen that morning though!

10-10-2013 Lasagna Roll (2)Praise God for His guidance, help, and how He had provided. Just a few minutes after my sister arrived, I pulled the delicious lasagna rolls out of the oven. The tofu ricotta was a little salty and lemony, so I adjusted the frequency to add the ingredients, with more careful tasting, but I thought they were pretty delicious anyway. I should have taken a picture of the whole pan, in their beautiful rows of 3, sitting in spaghetti sauce, but it was embarrassing to take the photos while my sister was there, so I had waited until after she left.

These can be topped with spaghetti sauce or a garlic “butter” sauce. I had topped two with the latter, but most of them with the spaghetti sauce. They can also be topped with creamy sauces, too, but I don’t have any recipes for them. The garlic “butter” sauce is just a simple sauce that doesn’t call for a recipe. It’s either olive oil or melted vegan butter/margarine, however much you need, with salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings dashed on. I do have a recipe for a garlic spread, but I used melted Smart Balance (Light) in this case.

They can also be stuffed with other ingredients, too, like mushrooms and breaded eggplant. If I had mushrooms or breaded eggplant. Here is the recipe for the one that I made.

Ingredients:

  • 20 lasagna noodles (You will not use them all, but should cook about as many, because some fall apart or stick and look ugly when torn.)
  • 1 cup spinach (canned, frozen, or pre-cooked), rinsed and drained)
  • salt
  • 1- 1 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 3 Tbs olive oil (100% extra virgin recommended)
  • oil (May I recommend coconut oil?) or nonstick cooking spray (for greasing the pan)
  • 1 ½ cup tofu cottage cheese
  • 4 Tbs strong pesto (optional, for garlic addicts like myself)
  • 3 cups of seasoned spaghetti sauce (see instructions for how to season) (or other sauce)
  • (Optional) 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced small and 2 Tbs olive oil (100% extra virgin, recommended).

To Make:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Bring a large pot, full of water (with a pinch or two of salt) to a boil on the stove top.
  3. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave in the colander a few minutes to continue to drain out the water. The same should be done with the spinach. After it’s been drained and rinsed, leave it to continue draining.
  4. Add lasagna noodles, 1 noodle at a time, in a spiral around the pot, so that they are not all on top of each other (if you can do that, if not, try to place them in vertically).
  5. Boil for about 5-10 minutes, or until they can bend enough to be rolled without breaking. They should not be super soft/fully cooked, just rollable without breaking, but if they are fully cooked, at least you tried, just try to roll more carefully (I’m not sure what will happen, but they may be more fragile).
  6. Sauté the onions in the 3 Tbs of olive oil, sprinkling lightly with salt (optional).
  7. Sauté onions until they are soft and juicy. They should not be crispy and don’t have to be golden brown, but just turning transparent. They can still be firm, and don’t have to be mushy (actually, mushy isn’t recommended.).
  8. (Optional) Saute the bell pepper in 2 Tbs olive oil and stir into spaghetti or other sauce.
  9. If you like your spaghetti sauce just fine as it is, you don’t have to add extra seasoning. I like mine seasoned with a couple dashes of garlic powder and onion powder, a pinch of rosemary, a couple dashes of Italian seasoning, salt (to taste), a dash of fennel seeds (sometimes), and sometimes if the sauce is bitter, a sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or sugar, but I didn’t sweeten my spaghetti sauce, because I had  used a brand that was already sweetened. My sister brought some basil, which I didn’t add to the sauce (although I added it to the pesto), but a sprinkle of that may make a nice addition to the sauce as well. Determine how you like your sauce to taste. Give it a taste or two before you decide to use it, as  you are seasoning it.
  10. Stir 1/2 cup of sautéed onions to the sauce.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Lightly grease a very large baking pan, or a few smaller baking pans, using either a little olive oil (spread around using a plastic sandwich bag on your hand, or with thoroughly washed hands.
  13. Thoroughly wash your hands again. You’re going to need them.
  14. On a large cutting board, clean counter, or whatever other appropriate and clean kitchen surface you can use, place 1 whole lasagna noodle, flat.
  15. Press a thin layer of ricotta tofu (determine how much you can stretch across about 12-15 lasagna noodles. If you have to make more, and have a little more tofu, don’t be afraid to make more ricotta tofu. If you have extra, it’s good for other recipes, too, and will keep in the fridge a few days.
  16. Add a few pinches of spinach on top of the ricotta, one every 2 or 3 inches (determine how much you can spread across 12-15 lasagna noodles. Don’t be afraid to use more, if you have more.
  17. Add slices of onion, about 1 or two every 2 or 3 inches. Again, determine how much you have to last, and don’t be afraid to use more, if you need more.
  18. If you decide to use other toppings, too, like mushrooms, this same placement rule would apply. You don’t have to follow this rule exactly either. It’s just to try to carefully and evenly distribute the ingredients to last.
  19. Starting with the end closest to you, fold the lasagna over a few times toward the opposite end, like you would if you were rolling up a sleeping bag (except do not try to press the air out, or you will  probably squish out the ingredients and have little left but noodle.
  20. Place, open side down (the side that would come apart/open up if you were to unroll the noodle) into the pan. I staked mine in neat little rows of 3, except for the two I cooked in garlic “butter” sauce, which I put side by side in a smaller pan.
  21. Repeat steps 14-20, until you run out of ingredients for filling, or until you run out of usable noodles. Use all the whole noodles first, and then the closest to whole of the broken ones (if you run out of whole noodles).
  22. Pour sauce over the lasagna. Try to evenly distribute the sauce along the length of the pan, or width, as though you were making columns across the rows, unless you do not have neat rows, then do whatever seems best to evenly distribute the sauce.
  23. (Optional) Garnish with tiny 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fulls of pesto garnish along the length of the lasagna noodles, like you did with the sauce, but smaller lines.
  24. Cover with tin foil. Make a slit or two down the middle of the foil of each pan.
  25. Bake covered for 30 minutes. The oil should be sizzling and the noodles should be softened (any that aren’t covered with sauce may also harden and turn a golden brown, or “golden,” but less brown color).
  26. Test with a cake tester. If the cake tester easily slides through the noodle (the part covered with sauce), then they are probably soft enough. If you want to avoid any hardening of the noodle, cover the entire noodle with sauce before baking.
  27. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes (unless the lasagna is already burning in your oven).
  28. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes.

This makes a delicious meal. We had garlic bread with ours, and carob cupcakes for dessert. This dish will also pair nicely with a salad. It’s great for entertaining guests. I’d recommend it for holidays and/or a Sabbath lunch with the family, but not for potluck, because it’s too pretty for potluck.

These lasagna rolls keep well in the fridge for a few days, probably about a week. They may also be freezable, too. I’ve seen family freeze leftover lasagna before, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t, except that tofu does not freeze well (according to what little I’ve read). I’m not 100% sure though.

If you’re like me, you’ll also save the scraps, like the leftover lasagna noodles that you didn’t use. If they are whole, you could make extra lasagna rolls with other extra ingredients, or experiment with other ingredients to come up with your own lasagna-roll invention. They can also be cut up and added to soups, or stirred into spaghetti sauce, or fried in olive oil with other seasonings and sauces for a quicker meal later. They’ll keep in the fridge for about a week or longer too.

 

 

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