Manhandling it like an enchilada (Lasagna Rolls)

It’s me, E. I need to set the record straight on a couple things.

Ok, so Krystal got most things about me right and has been pretty flattering. But she hasn’t talked about my skills in the kitchen.

Fair enough, there aren’t that many skills that I possess in the kitchen. In fact, I have a tendency to be dangerous. Not in the “boiling noodles started on fire” sense, but more in the “this recipe calls for 1,328 ingredients!?!?” sense. I commit to recipes that are WELL beyond my capabilities (e.g. my steaks are still exclusively served in hues of grey.) But of all the weird recipes I may try and botch, there is a holy quadrinity that I will only attempt if I know I’ll emerge victorious:

  • Enchiladas
  • Nachos
  • Chili
  • Lasagna

One of my favorite webcomics: garfield minus garfield. It has apparently never mentioned lasagna.Now that I say it out loud type it out loud that makes sense.

So when I told Krystal I was making lasagna rolls and she responded with skepticism, I was stunned. She apparently dozed off during that part of our vows where I said, “I promise never to muck up lasagna.” Certainly not the weirdest wedding vows ever, but still something I took very seriously.

The result was magnificent, beautiful, and delicious. Heck, during prep I told Krystal they were upgraded from “easy” to make to “fun” to make. So, without further adieu, I present my first guest post on this blog. E made…


Lasagna Rolls

Overall: five-star

Lasagna Rolls

Un-photoshopped proof that I am useful in the kitchen.

After digging through the weird and boring lasgana recipes on Pinterest, Kelly’s recipe promised salvation. Not only did it come with a great story of failure and redemption (#eInjectingDramaAndHashTags), but it was straight-forward and simple. I thought I was being Minnesota Nice when I told Krystal I wanted to give it 5 stars, but despite her usual brutal critiques she said “well duh” and sealed the deal. Further points were earned by the recipe for being so delicious that when I skipped a step, the tastiness prevailed! (Recipe here, from Something Shiny.)

Ease to Prepare: four-star

Although Little K is a long ways away from it, someday I’ll have him make this with me. It is easy to do, has room to be playful (in the same way you can be playful in decorating a pizza), and is slightly messy yet self-contained. In addition to recommending they be assembled on a silicone mat, I highly recommend drying the noodles with a paper-towel – they’re slippery when wet!

And, for the love of Mario Batali, when you’re rolling them – don’t treat them like an enchilada! After years of only rolling Mexican-esque food, I didn’t recognize that applying pressure was an awful idea. Delicacy is the name of the game here, people.

Caution: Rolling like an enchilada will result in splattered walls & floors.

Caution: Rolling like an enchilada will result in splattered walls & floors.

The above picture was my final, pre-rolled product. Notice anything missing? Because I didn’t. What I overlooked was putting on the sauce-layer (a typically important part of lasagna assembly, the mid-layer sauce keeps everything moist and having heavenly consistency.) I recognized my mistake four rolls later, but couldn’t bring myself to disassembling my creations and left the rest to fate.

And fate smiled upon this meal. Overlooking the sauce on the inner-roll didn’t detract in the least – in fact I recommend skipping the sauce on the inside and just slathering it on all 5 outer sides.

Instructions: four-star

Winner of the 2013 “Worst Food Blog Photo” Contest

I had no idea how much liquid was in spinach. And although it loses its photogenic qualities, Kelly’s technique loses negligible nutrients yet keeps the spinach from sogging the place up. One bag of fresh spinach wasn’t enough to spread across 8 rolls, but I may have had too much spinach-per-roll. I’m going to apply this spinach de-sogging technique to every relevant recipe from now on.

The recipe is perfectly suited to being read on a tablet. It lost a star for not having a 3×5 friendly version (I’m writing my own because I don’t want to risk forgetting this!)

Food: five-star

Instead of belittling the food by attempting to describe it, I brought a poet:

Lasagna: the world’s most perfect food!

That poet may be a fictional cat, but truer words are rarely spoken. The meal was fantastic! Even acknowledging the fact that I messed up on:

  1. Not having enough spinach for all 8, despite the recipe’s author having that same problem
  2. Forgetting to put the sauce on the inside of half of the rolls
  3. Rolling the first two rolls too tightly and forcing the contents out the sides like a double-ended toothpaste tube

I highly recommend using Italian sausage, including some sautéed mushrooms, and forgiving yourself for using a 24oz jar of marinara vs. making your own.

Don't you love when something looks good even before baking?

Don’t you love when something looks good even before baking?

The fantastic thing about this recipe is that it lets you be playful with 8 mini lasagnas rather than having to spread your experiments over 8 different meals. So though I encourage you to skip putting the sauce on the inside, you can have your cake pasta and eat it too.

Clean up: three-star

For pasta with meat and sauce, a perfect rating is almost certainly unattainable. Had I made the sauce from scratch, it would’ve lost another star. But being able to double-up on dish-usage and having a straight forward assembly process saved this recipe from the lower end of the scale.

Cost: two dollar

Probably $25 for 8 lasagna rolls, when you factor in the meat, cheese and sauce. Not breaking the bank given it requires buying ricotta and a whole can of sauce, I don’t put this meal in the “cheap” category – so double-dollars it is.

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