Pasta, spinach, cheese, and meaty tomato sauce all combine to make these hearty (but healthier) spinach lasagna rolls.
Spinach, cheese, rich tomato sauce, and real lasagna noodles. Comfort in a bowl and on a fork. I’ll be the first to admit, that with all this cheese – three kinds – it’s not exactly healthy. However, it does contain its fair share of vegetables with spinach, tomatoes, (and carrots if you use my recipe!) Not only is it tasty, but it’s easy to freeze the leftovers for later, which is always a win in my house.
Just look at that thick, meaty sauce and the ooey gooey cheese. This combination of cheese means that you will have those amazing mozzarella strings that always snap just before the camera clicks. Well, at least that’s what they do for me. I tried, but my photography just isn’t yet that advanced.
I really wish you could just smell these spinach lasagna rolls through the screen! They are fairly simple to make and take about 20 minutes to assemble after the water boils for the pasta. On a gas stove-top it takes about 10 minutes if the pot of water is salted and covered, but it tends to take longer with electric. Once the dish is in the oven it takes 25 – 30 minutes to bake. In all, a delicious dinner can be on the table in less than an hour. Trust me, delicious is not an understatement when we are talking about spinach lasagna rolls.
First things first, you have to decide on the type of sauce you want to use. Yes, I recommend my very own meaty tomato sauce, which means that I only make this when I have the sauce ready made. The idea of making the sauce from scratch, then making spinach lasagna rolls on the same day means way too much active time in the kitchen. For a food blogger that likes to make pasta from scratch on occasion, that’s saying a lot! You can go meat free, choose one with extra cheese, or even one loaded with mushrooms if you like.
Once you know your sauce type grab a big pot for the noodles, add water and salt, cover it and set it over a high flame. (Covering the pot will make it boil much faster – a trick I didn’t really think about until not too long ago!) The faster the water boils, the sooner dinner gets to the table! Once the water is at a full rapid boil, add 9 lasagna noodles, give them a stir and set the time for 7 minutes, or one minute less than what the box says. The noodles will finish cooking in the oven.
When the noodles go in, it’s time to start heating the sauce. Portion out 3 cups, which is equal to a 24 ounce jar, and start heating over a low flame. Cover the pan so that it doesn’t splatter out and don’t forget to stir it on occasion while the noodles cook.
While the noodles and sauce are doing their thing, let’s talk about this cheese and spinach filling. For the spinach you can use either fresh or frozen.
If you choose frozen, you will need about 7 ounces of spinach. This should be equal to about 1 cup of spinach once it’s defrosted but before you have removed the water.
If you are using fresh, you will need 1 pound of spinach. If using baby spinach, the leaves and stems can be used, but you should remove any tough stems from the leaves of regular spinach. The spinach should then be cooked down – my preferred method is to place it in a glass bowl, cover with a plastic veggie bag and microwave for 3 – 5 minutes. Once the fresh spinach is cooked down it will also be about 1 cup of spinach before removing the water.
To remove the water: wrap the spinach in 2 layers of paper towel and gently squeeze of the sink. The volume of the spinach will reduce greatly once all the green water drips out.
Combine the spinach, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, shredded parmesan, and egg in a bowl. Combine thoroughly. Now is also a good time to set your oven to 375 degrees.
Your’s should appear to have less spinach, because I didn’t follow my own guidelines on substituting fresh spinach for frozen spinach. Yes, the picture above is from that one time where I made it trying to substitute a 10 ounce package of frozen spinach for 1 lb of fresh spinach. It was still good, but with 1 1/2 times the amount of spinach that I usually use, it had a little too much spinach for my tastes – and James’s too for that matter!
Since we are working with 9 lasagna noodles, split the filling into 3 fairly even balls. Each of these balls will then be split into three balls, which will fill one noodle each. Once the noodles are cooked and drained, try to reserve the pasta water. When you go back to separate the noodles, if they stick to each other immerse them in the pasta water to help loosen them up. This way you won’t be losing any noodles to breakage.
Spread the filling out as evenly as it will go then loosely roll each noodle up, being careful not to squeeze out the filling. After the first three are rolled, spoon 1/2 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan. The 9×13 pan is a little bit big for this recipe, but a 9″x9″ pan is too small to make them fit. Nestle the filled and rolled noodles into the sauce with a bit of space between them. Then finish filling and rolling the remaining rolls.
Once everything is rolled up, spoon the remaining sauce on top of the spinach lasagna rolls. I never have quite enough to cover them completely, so aim for the middle of the rolls first. After it’s sauced, sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. The pan then gets covered with aluminum foil and baked for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes. The cheese should be melted and the sauce should be bubbling. Mmmm…if only you could smell it! Serve it up with a hunk of garlic bread for a new take on an Italian treat.
Bonus: these spinach lasagna rolls can be frozen for about 3 months. When it’s time to reheat, make sure they thaw completely before cooking. I like to put them into a covered saucepan and reheat them slowly over medium heat. I find they dry out very little and cook up evenly. James doesn’t have the patience for something like that and opts for the microwave when he is left in charge of it.
What’s your favorite pasta recipe? Have you ever tried spinach lasagna rolls before?
Check out the printable copy of the recipe below for all the directions in one spot. Don’t forget to PIN or YUM the recipe for later!
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Meaty Tomato Sauce
- 24 ounces of tomato sauce
- 9 lasagna noodles
- 16 ounces fresh or 7 ounces frozen spinach
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, cutting 1 minute off the cook time.
Heat 24 ounces of tomato sauce over low heat.
If using fresh spinach, remove any stems as necessary then microwave in a covered container for 3 - 5 minutes.
If using frozen spinach thaw completely.
Remove all excess water from spinach by gently squeezing through a double layer of paper towels.
Combine together the spinach, ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and the egg.
Divide cheese mixture into 3 equal portions.
Spoon 1/2 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Working with 3 noodles at a time, divide one portion of cheese filling into three and spread out along the length of the noodle.
Roll the noodles up, being careful not to squeeze out the filling.
Place the noodles into the sauce, leaving a bit of room between them.
Repeat until all noodles have been filled and placed in the baking dish.
Cover the noodles with the remaining sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 5 - 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Serve and enjoy.
Working with 3 noodles.