When I asked for feedback on what people wanted to see from the "newer and cooler" blog (at least that's what I like to call it :) one of the things that kept popping up was freezer cooking recipes. So, every Friday I'm going to (hopefully) post up a recipe that's freezer friendly that you can fix ahead, freeze and forget about until you pull it out for dinner.
So, let's get this party started!
Lasagna Roll Ups (adapted from Fix, Freeze, Take & Bake).
- 12 lasagna noodles (I used rice noodles)
- 1 lb ground beef or Italian Sausage (I used beef)
- 1 (15 oz.) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
- 2 C. ricotta cheese (if dairy intolerant just use your favorite cheese alternative and grate that up to put inside the roll ups. Seriously you're not going to miss the ricotta cheese that way).
- 1, 10 oz. package chopped frozen spinach well drained (just defrost the package in the microwave, stick in a dishtowel and ring the heck out of it. You'll be surprised how little there really IS in a package of frozen spinach when it comes to solids). I used just some fresh chard for this recipe and made it right before I fixed this dish up.
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or Parmesan Cheese alternative)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or mozzarella alternative)
- 1 tsp. dried basil and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or just put in about 2 tsp. herbs of choice...I used Italian herb mixture I got from Costco a while back)
- 1 egg (or use 1 tbsp. flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp. boiling water and wait until gooey to get a good egg alternative as a binding agent in the recipe :).
Step 1: Cook your lasagna noodles according to package directions (especially if they have "freeze for later" directions on them). If using gluten free noodles I'd suggest under cooking them by a little bit (super el dante) because they tend to get gummy once frozen and reheated. It seems undercooking them a bit helps with it because there's still some "moisture absorbing" power left in the noodles that way. Rinse and cool noodles under cold running water (I use a colander and just run the water directly over the noodles after they are drained) until easy to handle.
Step 2: In a medium sauce pan (while your noodles are cooking) brown your hamburger or Italian sausage (or heck take a shortcut and use tomato sauce with meat in it if you are pressed for time). Drain. Add your tomato sauce to mixture (do NOT reheat the tomato sauce at this point since you're going to freeze the mix anyway). Set aside.
Step 3: Combine your ricotta cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, herbs and egg. Mix until well combined. Take your noodles one at a time and lay them flat (I just laid them along the bottom of my 9x13 baking dish and did my "assembly line" there and then put the rolled up noodles on the top part of the dish, but you can also use a cookie sheet and carefully move them to the baking dish after assembled). Take your clean hands and scoop up some of your cheese and spinach mixture and spread a layer of cheese on the noodle from one end to the other (resist the urge to spread the mixture on too thick...remember you have to roll these up afterward). Then roll up the noodles like seen above. Place the "lasagna rolls" in your pan one at a time (be sure to leave room for tomato sauce to get between them) and go to town. Now the original recipe calls for 12 lasagna noodles, but my pan only fit about 8 to the point I was comfortable with it, but use your own judgement here (you CAN shove them together in the pan, I just didn't want to make a huge pan full of them :).
Step 4: Pour tomato sauce over rolls and then (if you're me since I like lots of cheese) spread mozzarella cheese evenly over the entire dish. Cover with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze.
Step 5: When ready to cook, pull out of freeze, take off foil and remove plastic wrap. Replace foil. Heat in 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (or until everything is looking bubbly and yummy). Let sit for about 10 minutes once done and enjoy! I always write my directions directly on my aluminum foil covering the dish with a sharpie. Makes it really easy to figure out how to cook at dinner time :).
Alternative Freezing Method: You can also lay these out one at a time on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and freeze them just as bare noodle rolls (no tomato sauce needed at that time) on said cookie sheet, remove once frozen (just peel them from the parchment paper), bag tag and freeze and then you can pull out however many you need for dinner at night. I rarely have room in my tiny block freezer for a cookie sheet full of anything, so I just put it directly into the baking dish to go in my other freezer right away :).