Sometimes all it takes is a small switch in presentation to change a meal.
Could you just as easily take all of the ingredients in this recipe and layer them like a traditional lasagna? Absolutely.
Likewise you could take any lasagna recipe under the sun and roll it instead of layering it!
It’s a fun change for a traditional dish. Personally, I also think it makes it a bit easier to serve and store, but mostly it just looks cool.
For Ricotta filling:
1) Stir together ricotta and chopped fresh herbs. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and store in the fridge until needed.
For sausage filling:
1) Add a drizzle of oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Then add sausage, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let cook, breaking apart sausage with a spoon, until sausage is mostly cooked.
2) Add chopped onions and garlic to sausage and continue to cook until veggies are soft, another 5-6 minutes.
3) Remove sausage from heat and once it has cooled slightly add mixture to a small food processor and pulse a few times to grind up sausage into an evenly fine texture.
4) Add sausage mixture back to skillet with canned diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and taste it. Season with more salt and pepper if needed or more pepper.
To make lasagna rolls:
1) cook lasagna noodles according to package. Try not to overcook them.
2) Drain noodles and then working with a few noodles at a time, lay them out flat and add a smear of ricotta mixture to each noodle. Then add a few spoonfuls of sausage mixture. You just need a thin layer of each on each noodle.
3) Roll noodles up. Roll tight enough that the noodles stick, but not so tight that the filling busts out.
4) Mix tomato sauce with a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spoon a bit of the sauce into the bottom of a large baking pan.
5) As you finish rolling the lasagna, add them to the lightly sauced pan, seam side down.
6) After you finish rolling enough lasagna to fill the pan, spoon over the rest of the sauce and then top with grated cheese.
7) Bake at 375 degrees, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
8) Serve rolls immediately with chopped basil and red pepper flakes.
9) Store extra rolls in the fridge or, once cool, wrap them in foil and then store them in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag for months.
A spicy filling
Like I said, any filling in the world could work for this, but a spicy sausage is really nice.
If you want to try it out, just add a drizzle of oil to a large skillet and then crumble in some spicy Italian sausage. Season it well with salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Then let it cook until it’s browned!
While I didn’t do it in my version for these photos, I would also recommend adding in some diced onion and fresh garlic to give the filling a bit more flavor.
I was a bit worried that the large chunks of sausage wouldn’t roll well so once my sausage was cooked, I let it cool a bit and then pulsed it in my mini food processor to make it more uniform.
This was a good call and if you can I recommend you do the same. If you don’t have a food processor then try to break up the sausage as small as possible.
Once the sausage is in a finer consistency, stir in some diced tomatoes and taste the filling. It might need another pinch of salt and pepper.
Again, I would add some onion and garlic to my filling if I were making this again.
Meanwhile, stir together the ricotta cheese with a good amount of fresh basil and parsley. This will go in the filling also and is really flavorful.
You could add a bit of lemon zest to this if you wanted. I thought it was pretty flavorful with just the herbs though.
Making the Rolls
Obviously you’ll need some lasagna noodles for this. I just used plain old dried noodles and cooked them according to the package. Nothing fancy!
When the noodles are done cooking, drain them, and then lay out a few on a clean surface.
Smear on a thin layer of ricotta cheese and then spoon on some of the sausage filling.
Then just roll them up! Roll them tight enough so they stick, but not so tight that the filling squirts out.
To go over the rolls, I just made a really simple tomato sauce with canned tomato sauce and a pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. You could use a few cups of jarred sauce also if you wanted.
Just spoon some of the sauce in the bottom of a large pan and then place the finished rolls in the pan with the seam-side down.
It just so happens that my pan fit exactly 18 rolls in it.
Cover the rolls with a few cups of tomato sauce and then layer on some grated mozzarella.
There’s no specific amount for the cheese here. I used about 10 ounces of cheese I think. Keep in mind that the rolls have cheese in them also!
Cover the rolls with foil and bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then uncover them and bake them for another 10 minutes or so.
Then serve them up!
Three rolls makes for a pretty big serving and I like to add some fresh basil to my rolls and maybe some extra red pepper flakes for a bit of extra heat.
The nice thing about these rolls is that once they have cooled off, you can easily wrap them in foil and then store them in a freezer-safe bag in your freezer. They will keep for a few months without a problem and then you can reheat them either in the microwave or in the oven!
Anyone ever made lasagna rolls before? Leave a comment!