Sundried Tomato and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

We had so much fun on our trip to Utah, we even decided to stay an extra day. Some of the highlights were my aunt teaching me how to make homemade tortillas, spending time with family in the kitchen – talking, cooking, and eating, swimming with my cousins, meeting Maria and her husband for dinner at Blue Lemon, fall clothes shopping for the kids at the outlets up in Park City, a late dinner at Cafe Rio (I hadn’t been in 4+ years), enjoying a few days of cool weather, and seeing Julie & Julia.

As always, for me, much of my most treasured moments from family trips seem to be the ones that are in the kitchen with loved ones. The kitchen always ends up as the gathering place. The place people come to visit while others are preparing food. Soon enough we’re all working together on whatever recipe it is we’re making. At one time, there were 6 of us gathered around the large kitchen island, all chatting and working on dinner. I loved that moment and in awe of watching what was happening around me, I said – this is what my blog is all about. Spending time in the kitchen together. Cooking together. Enjoying food together.

For me, food is very much a social thing. I love, and have always loved, good food and creating new recipes, but it doesn’t mean nearly as much if it’s not shared with the people I love. We had these delicious Sundried Tomato and Spinach Lasagna Rolls on our last night together. This lasagna recipe is not one I would call quick, but it didn’t matter because we had fun spending a large portion of the day in the kitchen cooking dinner and making dessert (strawberry shortcakes and caramel apple shortcakes).

Even with all the “work” of preparing a m
eal for a large crowd, it was the most laid back day we had – and probably the most fun. All of us together at the table cherishing the last moments together and enjoying a home cooked meal – it was a definite goodLife {eats} moment. I’m so glad we stayed that extra day.

Sundried Tomato and Spinach Lasagna Rolls
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

I’ve been wanting to make lasagna rolls for some time. These were a hit all around (except for the pickiest of preschoolers) and so much easier to serve than traditional lasagna.
Bechamel Sauce
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and rinsed
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 3/4 tsp salt, plus more for salting water
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 to 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)
To make the bechamel sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a food processor, blend the sundried tomatoes and ricotta until the mixture is mostly smooth, with a few small tomato chunks. Whisk the ricotta mixture, spinach, 1 cup Romano, egg, salt, pepper, and parsley in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted wate
r. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta 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 bechamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture.

Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Romano 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, and serve alongside.