Wednesday night is pasta night at White House Red Door; at the very least, that means 52 nights of pasta a year and, to be honest, I’m sure we exceed that, easily. The wonderful thing is that there are so many shapes, sizes, styles, and sauces that we could quickly go through a year without any repeats. Actually, having written that, I really should consider this a challenge. Note to self… New Year’s Resolution decided… a year’s worth of pasta.
Most Wednesday nights I use dry pasta, pairing with some seasonal veggie and sauce. Occasionally meat makes an appearance, but only in a supporting role. Favorites include:
- orechiette + kale + Italian sausage
- spaghetti carbonara
- baked orzo + shrimp + tomatoes + feta
- penne + tuna + tomatoes + capers
- tortellini + sautéed zucchini + pesto
Fresh pasta is a tremendous treat; a group effort saved for a quiet day when we can dedicate ourselves to the task. The rewards are well worth the effort and seem to lend themselves to cold, snowy days.
- homemade butternut squash ravioli + sage + brown butter
- homemade tagliatelle + bolognese
- homemade lasagna noodles + béchamel + bolognese + parmesan
One dish that turns up almost monthly is Lasagna Roll Ups. The perfect preset portions, incredible variety in terms of filling, and ease in getting this on the table make it one of my pasta night “go to” stand outs. The basic formula of ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper remains constant, even standing alone if needed. However, when you have leftover or fresh veggies staring at you every time you open the fridge, throw them in the filling. Just about anything works- squash, zucchini, greens, peppers, mushrooms, onions are just a start.
This recipe is one to play with according to your taste. The quantities of sauce and cheese below are just guidelines. Love your lasagna gooey, saucy and cheesy? Done. Just add more sauce and cheese. Hate greens? No problem. Swap the greens for another vegetable you like. Missing the meat? Brown some sausage, ground beef, or add leftover chicken. It will be delicious. Trust yourself!
PS- If you have any roll ups left, they make excellent additions to a lunch box. Simply warm up in the microwave and immediately transfer to a thermos.
Lasagna Roll Ups
1 box lasagna noodles (15-18 noodles)
1 32oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce, 1 ½ cups reserved
2 cups ricotta
½ cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella, ½ cup reserved
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 bunch greens… spinach, kale, swiss chard or combination
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare casserole dish by covering bottom with thin layer of marinara sauce.
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles, 6 at a time, until flexible. When flexible, remove noodles with tongs and place on a cookie sheet lined with a clean dish towel. Top with another clean dish towel, and repeat with next batch of 6 noodles. Repeat until all the noodles are cooked.
Make the filling:
Saute chopped greens in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Remove from pan and finely chop. Set aside.
Combine ricotta, parmesan, and nutmeg. Stir in finely chopped greens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread ricotta filling lengthwise down noodle (approximately 2 tablespoons per noodle). Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons marinara sauce over ricotta and top with 1-2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella.
Tightly roll up noodle jelly roll style and place seam side down in prepared casserole. (Depending on the casserole dish I use, my noodles usually end up being in 3×5 rows. It is important for the rolls to fit snugly against one another so that they don’t unfurl.) Repeat with remaining noodles.
Pour reserved 1 ½ cups of marinara over roll ups. Top with reserved ½ cup of shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan.
Bake until heated through and bubbly, 30 minutes or so.