Lasagna Rolls - Part 1

Justin and I are hosting Easter at our house for the second year in a row. I don't like ham, so it's always a challenge to decide what food to serve. I prefer something I can cook either in the oven or the crock pot, because I don't like to be chained to the stove while everyone is eating appetizers and salad. I also need to be able to make it ahead of time, so we are free to do what we want during the day. (Last year, I didn't get dinner on the table until 8:00 pm, because we didn't get home until 6:00 from sightseeing around Baltimore. I was a little stressed that evening, so I think the easiest thing to do is just prepare everything early so I can just pop it in the oven.)

I've seen recipes for lasagna rolls floating around, but haven't had the time to try them. I came across them again the other day and thought Easter would be a great opportunity. (The individual servings make them perfect for company.) I tried them last night (because I never try out anything new on company, especially the in-laws), and they were perfect! Justin said they were delicious, and they were much easier to prepare than regular lasagna. I prepared the rolls in the morning (lasagna rolls, sauce, everything) and put them in the refrigerator. When we started getting hungry, I just put them right in the oven and thirty minutes later, dinner was on the table. Justin even said he liked these more than regular lasagna, which is a huge compliment! I wasn't sure what type of lasagna rolls I should make, so I made two completely different kinds (which worked out well because Justin ate these, and I ate the other batch I made). We couldn't decide which to make, so I am going to make both for Easter. Here is the recipe for the first rolls I made. (I will post the second one later in the week.)

Prosciutto and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

For the bechamel sauce:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

For the lasagna rolls:
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 1/2 cups (28 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups fresh spinach, chopped (washed and dried)
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 tsp. salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella

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. (Make sure not to burn the butter.) Whisk in the milk and 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 sauce. Set aside.

To make the lasagna rolls:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a roaring boil. Boil the noodles until just tender, but still firm to bite, about 8 minutes. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13x9 glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. (You may need to reheat it if the consistency has changed.) Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface. Spread 3-4 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture over each noodle. Starting at one end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. (Make sure not to squeeze or the filling will come out the sides.) Lay the filled lasagna noodles seam side down (without touching) atop the bechamel sauce in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture.

Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna noodles. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan over the rolls. Cover tightly with foil. (If you are making these ahead of time, you can put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.) Bake until heated through and sauce bubbles (about 20 minutes). Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees, uncover lasagna rolls, and bake until cheese on top starts to brown, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with additional marinara sauce.

Source: adapted from Giada De Laurentiis