Zucchini Roll-ups ~ Lasagna-style!

If you liked my Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups, you will love these zucchini lasagna roll-ups!

Whenever I make meatballs, I always seem to make enough sauce for an army of people. Since it’s just Charlie and I (and I hate left-overs), that’s not a great thing. Because I loved the Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups  I made a few weeks ago, I decided to make up some zucchini lasagna roll-ups using the additional sauce. I did look around Pinterest for recipes but in the end, I made up my own.

These little things are really tasty and you will not miss the pasta. However, be warned, they are a little bit of a pain in the butt to put together. This time I ended up doing them “assembly line style”, which meant I figured out how many I would need to fill a row (four for my little dish). I then laid my zucchini out across the counter top so I would be making four roll-ups at a time. It shaved off some time and made it easier to get them into the baking dish. Try it.

First make the zoodles and yes, if you follow my blog you’ve seen this photo before. I didn’t feel like taking a new one since a zoodle is a zoodle is a zoodle. They always look like this.

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Here are two of them before I spread the mixture out across the zoodles. I did four of these at a time.

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Here is what they looked like in the pan. The red flecks you see are sauteed red peppers I had leftover in the refrigerator. They were an after thought because I wanted the dish to look prettier. I did NOT include the peppers in the recipe below, but if you want to, feel free.

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At this point, I just filled in the empty spots with more sauce.

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Then the last step is the cheese. What you see here is just a thin layer. I wasn’t sure how much cheese I wanted at this point, so I baked it with a little bit, then I took it out and added more. (You don’t have to do what I did. I am a freak. I own this.)

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Poof. When it comes out of the oven, it smells spectacular and it looks like this:

And THEN, it looks like this:

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Ingredients:
5-6 medium zucchini
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
10 oz. fresh spinach, sautéed. (Frozen works well too. Thaw and drain it.)
3-4 cups prepared marinara sauce
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon pepper (or to your taste)
½ Teaspoon salt (or to your taste)

Directions:
Preheat Oven to 375
Using a vegetable peeler, create the zucchini ribbons. (You can use a mandolin set on “thin”, but the peeler really works best for me.)

Drain and chop the artichokes and the sautéed spinach. Place both into a clean dish towel, twist tightly and smash out as much liquid as is humanly possible.

Mix together the ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 cups Mozzarella, 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce, eggs, and seasonings. Add the artichokes and spinach to the bowl and mix again. IF it is too wet, add a little bit more Parmesan & Mozzarella.

Spread about ¼” of sauce into your baking dish. Keep in mind that you will need this much sauce to support the roll ups vertically.

On a clean surface, lay 2-3 pieces of zucchini down slightly overlapping each other. I made mine to be about 2 & ½ inches across, so depending on the size of the zoodle, I either used two or three slices. Spoon & spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over the slices. Roll up tightly and place vertically in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is brown and bubbly.

NOTE: I had leftover sauteed red peppers and onions in my fridge, so I cut up some of the peppers and stuffed them into the tops of the rolls to make them look pretty. You do not have to be as crazy as I am OR you can make these rolls your own and add whatever else you like to them. They are very forgiving!

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Not Yo Mama’s Vegetarian Lasagna ala Bobbe

I have finally come up with a recipe for vegetarian lasagna that I think is worth sharing. Seriously, we loved this dish!

Recently I was asked by a wonderful lady if I would create a meatless lasagna for her to serve the vegetarians at her dinner party. Happily, I obliged even though I am not typically a lasagna maker. (Something about the ricotta cheese always messes me up and the dish ends up too gloopy.)

I started this dish just thinking about vegetables I like to eat together. Spinach and artichoke always find themselves front and center wearing gold stars, when I start this thought process. Next, what items could I add for taste, color and texture: onions, shredded carrots and chopped Shiitakes! Perfect combo!

Then I thought about my issues with ricotta and I remembered watching an episode of “The Pioneer Woman” where she made hers with a yummy Béchamel sauce (white sauce) instead of ricotta. I questioned this though, because of this being a meatless dish. When there is no meat present, flavors are different and I worried that Béchamel might make a squishy, drippy lasagna. What to do; what to do?

I decided to make a sauce using heavy cream, cottage cheese, finely grated Parmesan cheese, a little corn starch, an egg and some fresh garlic. Then I put together my red sauce and got the rest of my ingredients assembled and ready to go.

Cast of characters:

I should mention too, that I grated a block of Fontina cheese to mix with the bagged Mozzarella for more flavor. To make it easier, and because I was only making this in an 8″ x 8″ pan, I used no boil noodles-they are shorter.

Then it was a simple matter of layering. First, a thin layer of tomato sauce, etc.

Then repeat the layers until the top is reached.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes covered. Then 10 minutes more, uncovered, until brown and bubbly.

The final secret is to let it cool for 20-25 minutes before serving, otherwise, it will wilt as it did below. (I was hungry! It still tasted great!)

Oh and PS, I tested this recipe the night before I made it for my friend. My version didn’t include the carrots and mushrooms. It also had way too much fresh garlic and I had added too much lemon zest to my white sauce. I like to add a little zest to ricotta because it lightens it up, but it didn’t work here because duh, I was using cream. It actually made the dish a little sour. The recipe posted below includes my tweaks. You’re welcome.

((Hugs and love))


Ingredients:
White Sauce:
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 egg
1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ tea. Salt
Red Sauce:
(1) 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (OR you can buy a can of San Marzano’s and crush them yourself)
½ jar of your favorite prepared marinara sauce + 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
¼ cup freshly chopped basil
½ tea. Salt
½ tea. Pepper

1 pkg no boil lasagna noodles
(2) 8 oz. packages of frozen, chopped spinach
2 cans artichokes, quartered, then chopped
2 medium onions chopped
2 carrots grated
1 c. Shiitake mushrooms finely chopped (you can leave them chunkier if it’s your preference)
(2) 8 oz. bags of shredded Mozzarella
8 oz. grated Fontina
½ c. finely grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare both sauces and set aside. Neither has to be heated. Simply mix the ingredients and set aside. This can be done a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator if you like.

Sauté the onions, carrots and mushrooms until the onions are translucent. I started the onions & carrots about five minutes before adding in the mushrooms.

Thaw the spinach, combine it with the chopped artichokes and then squeeze out as much water as humanly possible. I use a cheese cloth. Then mix the cooked onions and carrots.

In a 9 x 13” baking dish, layer as follows:
Red sauce in the bottom
Noodles
Vegetable mixture (about half)
White Sauce
Mozzarella/Fontina Cheese
Red Sauce
Noodles
Repeat
When you reach the top your final layer should be Noodles, Sauce, and Mozzarella/Fontina cheese.
Finish by sprinkling a little Parmesan on top of this.

Cover loosely with foil that you have sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake 30 minutes covered.
Uncover and bake 10 minutes more or until brown and bubbly.
Important: Allow this to cool for 20-25 minutes before you serve it.

PS-I had leftover vegetable filling and cheese that I turned into a crust-less quiche for the following night’s dinner. It was so yummy. Just add 5 eggs and a half cup of cream. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

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