Lasagna Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This is a fun one! I recently got a new Cooking Light Cookbook so I’ve been trying out lots of different stuff in it. I was looking for something meatless because I decided we should have at least one day a week without meat, as it would be good for our diet as well as our bank account. This just looked like a fun and interesting way to lighten up lasagna and it didn’t disappoint one bit. There was so much good stuff going on, that I didn’t care one bit that there was no meat in it.

The dish is fairly easy to make and doesn’t take too long to prepare. You prepare the three different components separately (the noodles, the cheese filling and the sauce) and then you combine them. I was weary about the sauce since I’m still in the process of accepting peppers into my life after years and years of shunning them for no good reason (ahh, the logic of a picky eater), but in the end I really loved it. It was sweet with just a little bit of heat to it. And it was super easy to make, you just put everything in a blender and mix it up. I will definitely be using this sauce for other pasta dishes in the future.

I also really liked the cheese filling. And I rarely like ricotta cheese, even in lasagna. In fact I had some stuffed pasta shells a few days ago that had a similar ricotta filling and I didn’t like it at all. It was really overpowering. This recipe only calls for 1/2 cup and I think that’s just the right amount. It was good and the whole recipe didn’t scream RICOTTA, you could still taste all the other ingredients as well.

One thing this new cookbook has made me realize is that since I’ve started cooking again I’ve developed a prejudice against using the microwave. You know, like: *hoity-toity* “This recipe uses a microwave? Real cooks don’t use the microwave.” But, why not? You use the microwave to heat up the dish after you’ve put it all together and I’m finding lots of other recipes in the cookbook that utilize the microwave as well. If it will heat the sauce and pasta through in 5 minutes instead of having to cook it in the oven for a lot longer, then why not use it? I’m not saying I’m going to be cooking turkeys in the microwave anytime soon, but it’s a tool and I might as well use it for things that it does well.

Since I had the oven free, I made oven-roasted green beans along with the lasagna rolls. Confession time: I don’t think I’ve ever eaten green beans that weren’t from a can before. I guess I just thought they would be hard to cook? I don’t know, maybe I was just being lazy. Either way, eating these for the first time was like an epiphany. I’m not even joking. They are so much better than canned green beans it’s not even funny. And I like canned green beans. Plus they are less than a dollar for a big giant bag of them. Why the hell am I just discovering this now? I could have been eating these for years! I completely over-salted them this first time and we still ate every single one. Brandon actually asked me to make them again and he never asks me to make vegetables. I went back to the grocery store and bought another bag and we’ve eaten them 4 or 5 times in the past two weeks. I’d eat them for every single meal if I could. They are dead simple, just toss with oil and salt and roast for 10 minutes. Voila: awesomeness.

Lasagna Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Lasagna Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

adapted from Cooking Light Complete Cookbook

Dinner | Servings: 4
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 5 minutes | Total time: 35 min

Ingredients

  • 8 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms (I left these out)
  • 1 (6 oz.) package fresh baby spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (7 oz.) bottle roasted red bell peppers, undrained
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

Process

  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and gently rinse with cold water.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce. Put all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion, mushrooms, spinach and garlic for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, 2 tbsp. basil, salt and crushed red pepper.
  5. Place the cooked noodles on a flat surface and spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on top of each noodle. Roll up each noodle and place seam side down in a shallow 2 quart microwave-safe dish. Pour 1/4 sauce over each roll.
  6. Cover dish with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp. of basil.

Lasagna Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Oven-Roasted Green Beans

adapted from Cooking Light Complete Cookbook

Side Dish, Vegetable | Servings: 4
Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 10 min | Total time: 15 min

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees (F). (Note: I think this is a bit too hot. I’ve been doing it it 450, but my oven might run hot.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine beans, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well to coat.
  3. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tender, turning once.
  4. Remove from oven, add lemon juice to beans and toss. (Note: I’ve made these 4-5 times already and have forgotten to add the lemon EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I think when they come out of the oven my mind goes blank and all I can think is WANT TO EAT NOW. Anyway, these still taste absolutely wonderful without lemon if you don’t have any.)