Lasagna with a Twist

 Lasagna

A great looking recipe from the Boston Globe claims that their “rolled-up variation of an old favorite keeps it quick, neat and fun.”

You be the judge.

PASTA ROLLS WITH RICOTTA, SPINACH, AND WHITE SAUCE
SERVES 8

WHITE SAUCE

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, heated to boiling
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  2. Slowly beat in the milk, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let the sauce cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Remove the sauce from the heat and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool.

Note: You can refrigerate the white sauce for up to 3 days at this point.

FILLING

  • 1/2 pound baby spinach, stems removed, leaves well rinsed Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 egg yolks
  1. Put the wet spinach into a large saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Cover and set over medium heat, shaking the pan constantly for 2 minutes or until the spinach wilts.
  2. Drain the spinach into a colander and rinse with cold water. With your hands, squeeze the excess liquid from the greens.
  3. On a cutting board, coarsely chop the cooked leaves.
  4. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, Parmesan, egg yolks, spinach, salt, and pepper.

PASTA

  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 pound fresh pasta sheets Olive oil (for the dish)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (for sprinkling)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have on hand a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Cut the pasta sheets into 6-by-6-inch squares. Working in batches, drop several pieces of pasta into the boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are cooked but still have some bite. With a large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the ice water. Continue with the remaining sheets.
  3. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread some of the white sauce in the dish.
  4. Set a square of pasta on the counter. Pat it dry with paper towels. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture along one end of the dough. Roll up the dough and set the tube, seam down, in the dish. Repeat with the remaining pasta and remaining cheese.
  5. Spoon the remaining white sauce on the rolls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake the pasta for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling. Serve at once.

PASTA ROLLS WITH RICOTTA, SPINACH, AND RED SAUCE
SERVES 8

In this version, the white sauce is replaced with a quick-cooking red sauce.

RED SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) imported whole tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano Handful fresh basil leaves, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 recipe pasta rolls with ricotta-spinach filling (see left), white sauce omitted
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Tip the tomatoes into a bowl and, with your hands, crush them. Transfer the tomatoes and their juices to the saucepan. Stir in the oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cook the tomato mixture for 25 minutes. Set the sauce aside until ready to use.
  4. Note: You can refrigerate the red sauce for up to 3 days at this point.
  5. Make and assemble the pasta rolls as directed at left, substituting the tomato sauce for the white sauce. Bake as directed.

USING DRIED PASTA

You can substitute dried lasagna sheets for the fresh pasta, though your rolls will be smaller. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions (we find that even no-boil pasta needs to be cooked for 1 minute before using). Transfer the noodles to ice water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the noodles in half before rolling with filling.

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