One of the first recipes I ever made when I was young was lasagna. What I remember most about making lasagna was it’s complexity. Sure, I used pre-made sauce but it was that lasagna assembly that taught me that I could improvise – with spices. I guess you could compare me to a mad scientist, hovering over the stove adding a pinch of this, a pinch of that and the sauce always turned out well. However, no matter how you cut it, the slice of lasagna would just not look chic on a plate.
Giada de Laurentiis has revamped the lasagna, transforming what would be a brick pan of pasta into something chic and perfect for entertaining – Lasagna Rolls. Instead of prosciutto, I used smoky bacon and I did use low fat milk instead of whole. However the most accomplished thing I did was make a béchamel sauce from scratch. I really have failed at this task in times prior but this was the first time that I was able to make it from start to finish with no drama. I don’t think that I’ll be making lasagna the old fashioned way any more.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
- Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- 15 oz, container ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
- 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan .
- 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. of red pepper (depending on how spicy you like your sauce)
- 1/4 dried oregano
- 1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 12 uncooked lasagna noodles (NOT the no-boil kind)
- 2 cups marinara sauce, divided
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
- When the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk continuously for about 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk in the milk in a slow steady stream, making sure there are no lumps and increase the heat to medium-high.
- Continue whisking the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick, coating the back of a spoon. It should take about 2-3 minutes.
- Take off the heat and whisk in the salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg.
- Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, add the olive oil and boil the noodles until they are al dente.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, drained spinach, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, bacon, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- When the noodles are cooked, drain and arrange the noodles on a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.
- Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish.
- In the bottom of the buttered baking dish, pour the béchamel sauce and spread evenly.
- Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture evenly over each noodle.
- Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.
- Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and cheese mixture.
- Add the red pepper flakes and oregano to the prepared marinara sauce and stir.
- Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls.
- Cover tightly with foil.
- Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.
- Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer.
- Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot.
- Spoon some sauce on the plate and carefully place the lasagna rolls on top and serve.
Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
Gather the Ingredients
My First Successful Béchamel – I’m Like A Proud Parent
Time to combine the cheese mixture with the noodles
I didn’t have a 9 x 13″ baking dish, but I improvised with a Le Creuset baking dish.
Dinner is served!
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