What happens when you take one graduation open house in early June, one wedding in early August and add in various other graduation parties and commitments?  I will tell you….you get one crazy, busy life!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good, but still busy.  On top of that ( I guess Steve and I are overachievers??)  we decided that it would be a good time to do some home improvement projects (REALLY? Do we really need new heat and air at this exact time??) at the cabin since that is where the wedding is taking place.

So along with getting food ready for Alex’s open house (why did I decide to make homemade buns?)  I’m planning food for Memorial weekend at the cabin.  We’re having a whole crew of family up there for the weekend to help with one of our many projects….landscaping.

Unfortunately, with everything that’s been going on, blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.  But yesterday I decided that I would try and get on top if things and I had my kitchen working full blast.

I had three out of four burners working as well as my oven, convection oven on my microwave and my electric roaster!  That translates into two recipes for blog posts and 35 pounds of pork shoulder for Alex’s open house.  It was one busy day, but it felt good to get so much accomplished in the kitchen, even if it did take almost two hours for three us to pull all that pork!

What I bring to you today is the first of the two recipes, spinach and cheese lasagna roll-ups with spicy marinara.  It takes a little bit of time to put these together, but they are great for making ahead, plus they’re super yummy!  You can freeze them and then pull out as many roll-ups as you need.  Then all you need to do is top them with the sauce (which you can also freeze for later), bake and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time!

Spinach and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups with Spicy Marinara  

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper

For the roll-ups:

  • 14 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 (16 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 (16 oz) container low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (10 oz) box frozen spinach, well drained (I put it in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze all of the water out)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add 1/2 onion, season with a little salt and pepper and saute for about 4 minutes.  Add 2 cloves of garlic and saute for 1 more minute.

Remove from pot and set aside for the roll-ups.

Add 1 more tbsp olive oil to pot.  Add remaining onion season with salt and pepper and saute for about 4 minutes.  Add remaining 4 cloves garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes to pot and stir in Italian seasoning.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bring sauce to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.  The longer it simmers the better it will be.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

When water comes to a boil, add a drizzle of olive oil to the pot (this will keep the noodles from sticking together after they’re cooked)  add lasagna noodles.  Boil for 10 minutes.

Drain noodles.  Lay them out on a baking sheet that’s been coated with cooking spray and cover with a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Add remaining roll-up ingredients to a mixing bowl, along with reserved onion and garlic.  Mix until well combined.

Coat another baking sheet with cooking spray.

Lay lasagna noodles out on a cutting board or counter, a few at a time.  Spread about 1/4 cup of cheese mixture on each one.

Roll each noodle up into a pinwheel.  Place on cookie sheet,seam side down.

At this point, if you are freezing the roll-ups for later, place baking sheet in the freezer.  Once the roll-ups are frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and store in the freezer.

If you’re going to make these right away, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a baking dish, spread enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, about 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on size of dish.  Place desired amount of roll-ups on top of the sauce, seam side down.  Pour more sauce over the top.

Cover and bake for about 30 minutes, until warmed through and cheese is melted.  If you’re baking this later from frozen, you’ll need to add about 10 minutes baking time.

Serve immediately with extra sauce and parmesan cheese.

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