Jul 012010
 
One of the ultimate comfort foods to me is lasagna.  My mom makes the most ridiculous lasagna-with italian sausage, lots of cheese, and a fresh sauce.  But, I’m not the chubby 8 year old I used to be, so meaty, cheesy lasagna, as heartbreaking as it is, isn’t really in my repertoire anymore.  I created this version to fill the void…and that it did.  For kids and grown ups alike, or those of us still caught somewhere in the middle, these vegetable lasagna rolls are the perfect mix of hearty and healthy.  


You can really use any vegetable combo you like.  I used eggplant, zucchini, and white mushrooms because it seemed very italiany to me.  You could also go with yellow squash, red pepper, portabellas, spinach, broccoli, etc, etc.  


I’ve seen some pretty cool lasagna recipes that use pureed beans instead of cheese, and as much as I respect the whole vegan thing, lasagna to me needs real cheese.  What’s the point of comfort food without cheese.  I used a cup of freshly shredded good mozzarella cheese and 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta.  I mixed that with a lot of fresh basil, salt and pepper.  


Roast your vegetables for about half an hour at 400 degrees.  Let them cool and mix in with the cheese to complete your lasagna filling.


Now for the fun part.  While most people would probably prefer a meal with little to no assembly required, I like my meal to be a project.  Whether it’s building the perfect fajita or just constructing the perfect bite with just a little bit of every component on my plate, I’m very hands on when it comes to food.  So when I thought about rolling up little lasagna bundles of joy, you can only imagine my excitement.  


Once you’re done rolling you top with pasta sauce (I went store bought but you can do homemade if you’re really ambitious).  Top with some parmesan if you like bubbly brown cheese.  And if you don’t then what are you even doing reading this post??


Nutritional highlights:  This dish is based on lasagna, so there is still cheese and noodles, which makes you think carbs and fat.  BUT, by using whole wheat noodles and mixing a small amount of cheese with a large amount of vegetables, we decrease the fat and increase the nutritional value big time. This recipe is a big crowd pleaser and I’d venture to say you could even fool veggie haters into eating this.  

Vegetable lasagna roll-ups
makes 10 roll-ups

Ingredients:
  • 10 no-cook whole wheat lasagna noodles, softened
  • Vegetables to roast: 1 zucchini, 1 eggplant, 1 container mushrooms (or any combo you like)
  • 1 jar marinara sauce…look at labels and try to choose one without too much sugar or foreign ingredients
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I like shredding from a fresh mozzarella ball but pre-shredded is ok too)
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan for topping
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Cut vegetables into small pieces (use my photo above as reference).  Spread onto baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are just tender (they’ll continue to cook when you bake the lasagna(s).
2.  Mix mozzarella, ricotta, basil, and a good amount of salt and pepper.  Once vegetables have cooled, stir them in to complete your filling.
3.  If using no cook noodles, soften them my submerging in boiling water for about 1 minute.  If using uncooked noodles, cook as directed until al dente.  
4.  To assemble:  pour half the sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.  Create rolls by putting some of the filling at one edge of the noodle and rolling.  Experiment to see what is a good amount to put in each roll.  Arrange roll-ups in the pan and cover with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with shredded parmesan and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until sauce is bubbly.  

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