Vegetarian Four-Cheese Lasagna Rolls
-8 to 10 uncooked lasagna noodles
-2 Tbs. cooking oil
-salt (to taste)
-15 ounces ricotta or cottage cheese
-8 ounces cream cheese
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
-1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
-1 to 2 eggs
-2 tsp. garlic powder, divided
-1 teaspoon oregano
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers (canned)
-10-ounce package frozen regular or creamed spinach, thawed
-nonstick cooking spray
-1 jar alfredo (or marinara) pasta sauce
-unused coffee filters or dry cloth flour sack (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to a boil with a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil and salt (to taste). When rolling boil is achieved, add 8-10 lasagna noodles to the water and reduce temperature to medium heat. Allow noodles to cook 10-12 minutes, or until mostly tender but with slight firmness.
While pasta is cooking, combine the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring between additions: 1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta (or cottage) cheese, 1 (8-ounce) container softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 or 2 large eggs.
Stir mixture until no large chunks or pockets of cream cheese remain (some small chunks are okay at this stage). You can nuke the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds or so if needed to soften the ingredients during mixing.
To the cheese mixture, add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon oregano. Mix well.
Tear or dice a handful of (canned/drained) roasted red peppers to achieve about 1/4 cup of small pieces and add to the cheese mixture. Thaw a 10-ounce package of regular or creamed spinach and add it to the cheese filling as well.
Once lasagna noodles are ready, drain boiling water and fill pot with very cold water. Let the noodles rest in the water bath as you prepare the casserole to prevent them from sticking together before you’re ready for them. Coat a 9″x13″ baking pan liberally with nonstick cooking spray.
One by one, remove noodles from cold water and pat dry with sack cloth or unused coffee filters (these options won’t leave little tidbits of residue on the noodles the way a paper towel might). Laying the noodle flat on the bottom of the pan, spoon several tablespoons of cheese mixture onto the top of the noodle, leaving a small uncovered space about 1-1/2 inches long on one end (this will allow room for the filling to “squoosh” to the end as you’re rolling it and leave a little bit of uncoated noodle to seal each “rollatini”).
Beginning on the opposite end of the noodle from the uncovered space, roll the noodle over on itself over the cheese filling. Continue rolling like a snowball until you reach the other end of the noodle. Make sure the end you finish with is tucked well under the roll and scoot the stuffed noodle into position in the pan before starting on the next one. Continue arranging noodles like this until all are stuffed.
Chef’s Note: The really great thing about fixing lasagna by this method is that you can leave a one-serving-sized space completely open in one corner of the pan, enabling your spatula/knife/pasta server to navigate around the dish from the very first serving. This means no sacrificial ugly servings or fall-apart squares! Every roll will be picture-perfect, even when dished up piping hot!
Spoon the contents of a jar of prepared alfredo sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top with another 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and sprinkle additional oregano or garlic powder over the sauce if desired.
Bake uncovered for approximately 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and topping browns slightly. Remove from oven and serve garnished with fresh tomato wedges.