If you’re a fan of manicotti – and my husband totally adores manicotti – but don’t want to try to stuff those stupid manicotti shells (I really don’t like stuffing manicotti shells!) then this is the recipe for you. All the flavor and cheese-stuffed pasta-goodness of manicotti without the pain in the neck of stuffing! And, as an added bonus, spinach – some of the best stuff there is for you! (Do I sound like a commercial yet? Of all the recipes I’ve tried for this blog so far, I think this is my fave.) So without further fanfare, here it is:
Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
I tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 ounces washed baby spinach (or 8 ounces frozen spinach leaves, thawed and squeezed dry)
1½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
1 cup part-skim ricotta
½ cup freshly grated parmesan, cheese, divided
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 to 3 cups tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 375°.
Place noodles and enough water to cover in a 2-quart microwave-safe, ovenproof casserole dish. Cover and microwave on high until noodles are softened, about 4 minutes. Drain off water and arrange noodles on a plate to cool. Dry casserole dish.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add spinach and 1 tablespoon water, then stir to coat leaves and cover pan. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until wilted, about 1 minute. Spread cooked spinach out on a cutting board to cool, then finely chop.
In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the mozzarella, ricotta, ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese, egg, nutmeg, and pepper. Stir in cooled spinach mixture. Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in bottom of casserole. Place ¼ cup of the cheese and spinach mixture at base of each noodle and roll up. Place rolls seam-side down in casserole; pour remaining sauce over rolls. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese bubbles, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Easy easy easy. And yummy yummy yummy! I even used fresh spinach, are you impressed? (Ok, it had started to wilt in my crisper, but I figure it was just going to get wiltier.) And can you believe it, I actually followed the recipe this time! Well, almost. I used spaghetti sauce instead of tomato sauce. (My husband has declared that this is his favorite.) And I didn’t measure out the mozzarella when putting it on top, but I’m fairly sure I used more than was called for. I just sprinkle until it looks good. Did the same with the parm. Other than that, I really did follow the recipe.
One thing I will do next time though – my noodles got very sticky just sitting there on the plate. I would probably keep them in cool water and just pat them dry with a clean dish towel or a paper towel when I was ready to roll. Still, I am definitely making this one again. This was not only my favorite recipe to date, but everyone ate it – even my tomato-hater – and NO ONE complained. How’s that for a perfect dinner?