You might wonder what the purpose of lasagna rolls really are since it’s basically traditional lasagna ingredients – just layered a bit differently and rolled up in individual noodles.
First off, they are a bit easier to serve since you can scoop out each individual lasagna roll instead of cutting into a sliding mess of delicious lasagna (which I’m not opposed to doing, clearly, but I just want to make the point that the serving aspect is a bit easier here).
Also, you get a bit more noodle to filling ratio than you do with traditional lasagna, depending on the particular recipe of course, and I loved the very present tender noodles in every bite.
I absolutely love the single-serve aspect of these rolls.
I’ve made a version of these for a couple of years before perfecting into the concoction you see today, and I even made 200 of them for a church function a while back. Being able to serve individual lasagna rolls made for a much prettier presentation than the aforementioned tasty but messy traditional lasagna.
I don’t necessarily have a hankering to make 200 of them again (ever!) but making a pan of them up for my family is easy-peasy and is always very well received. And talk about a fantastic take-in meal for someone else. Perfecto!
8 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded, about 2 cups (reserving 1/2 cup for topping)
4 ounces Parmesan cheese finely grated, about 1 1/2 - 2 cups (reserving 1/4 cup for topping)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 traditional lasagna noodles
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the onion, garlic, ground turkey or beef, salt and pepper, breaking the meat into small pieces. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain any excess grease.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and thyme and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
While the sauce is simmering, boil the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain the noodles, rinse quickly under cold water and then lay the noodles flat in a single layer on waxed or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, egg, basil, parsley, mozzarella cheese (remember to set aside 1/2 cup of the mozzarella for topping later), Parmesan cheese (remember to set aside 1/4 cup of the Parmesan for later also), salt and pepper.
Gently spread a heaping spoonful of the ricotta filling down the center of each noodle. It doesn't have to cover the entire noodle, just press it into a somewhat even layer. The filling will be divided up evenly over all 12 noodle (I don't start rolling up the noodles until I've used up all the filling so I can add more to each noodle if need be). Spread a tablespoon or two of the red sauce down the center of each noodle on top of the creamy filling. Again, it doesn't need to be perfectly even, just drizzle/spread it across the top.
Spread about one cup or so of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Working with one lasagna noodle at a time, roll the noodle (see pictures below) and place seam-side down in the baking dish in four rows of three. Spread the remaining sauce over the noodles, sprinkle with the reserved cheeses and cover with aluminum foil that has been lightly coated with cooking spray (so it doesn't stick to the cheese as it bakes). Bake, covered for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let the lasagna rolls rest for 10 minutes before serving.
To freeze this meal, prepare and assemble the dish in the prepared pan and cover with the lightly greased foil. Freeze. When ready to bake, pop the pan in the oven as it preheats to 350 degrees. Bake covered for about 80-90 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the lasagna rolls are heated through and the edges of the casserole are hot and bubbly.