Mediterranean Lasagne Rolls marry the basic Italian lasagne roll concept with classic Mediterranean ingredients like spinach, artichokes, olives and feta cheese – along with a surprising veggie addition.
When I was cleaning out my kitchen shelves one day, I uncovered a sad box of lasagne noodles that had been hanging for who knows how long. I felt bad that I had obviously intended to make lasagne awhile back, but had forgotten all about it and thus forgotten those noodles. So I was inspired to bake a pan of lasagne for a nice winter meal, but I decided that I needed to conjure up a new spin on the old classic.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve seen the plethora of lasagne roll recipes on Pinterest. They’re cute aren’t they? I don’t know why, but we seem to gravitate to meals presented as a roll or muffin – maybe it appeals to our inner child who relishes the idea of self-contained mini-meals specially made for one. I decided to jump aboard the roll-up train and make my own version of lasagne rolls.
The Hubs loves pizza. Well…don’t we all? But we don’t all love the heavy, greasy toppings of the traditional carnivore-lovers pizza that is the Hubs’ preference. Somewhere along the way, I came up with a non-meat lovers pizza that he actually likes. My toppings are: onions, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, chicken, artichokes and feta and Parmesan cheese with a pesto sauce (Why haven’t I shared that recipe here on Cooking Ripe! yet??). I figured the same ingredients would work just as well rolled up inside wide noodles as they do atop a crust, so BAM! there’s my inspiration for Mediterranean Lasagne Rolls. Nope, didn’t even find it on Pinterest – all mine!
The results were really delish! Even better than I had expected, really. The tangy flavors from the artichokes and the feta along with the creamy ricotta and savory flavors of the sauce and Italian spices makes for a nice trip to flavor-town. One big change I made from the pizza to lasagne iteration is that instead of using chicken, I used…..ready?…….cauliflower! I don’t like it, but I know people say it “hides” well in recipes because it takes on other flavors, so I took a chance on it since I had some from Bountiful Baskets and sure nuff! I would NEVER have known it was there if I hadn’t made it myself. The Hubs was amazed at my magical voodoo skills.
The rolling up process may be a little fussy for a busy weeknight, so feel free to create a basic layered lasagne instead of rolls, if you prefer. I ended up making 10 rolls – 6 in one baking dish and 4 in another, only because I didn’t know how many I would end up with when I started. The foursome is happily chilling in the freezer for another day’s dinner.
Like most of my recipes, ingredient amounts may not be exact or fussy and you should put your own twist on it by adding or deleting ingredients according to your own tastes. Let me know what you did to spin it by leaving a comment below.
Mediterranean Lasagne Rolls
- 10-15 lasagne noodles (I used plain, but you could sub in whole wheat or other flavored noodles)
- 2-4 drizzle extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups califlower, finely diced (about half a head of cauliflower)
- 2-3 tablespoons prepared pesto (divided)
- 2-4 cloves minced garlic
- 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach (if you use frozen, defrost, then squeeze most liquid from it)
- 3/4 cups Sliced button mushrooms (I forgot to add the mushrooms when I made this!)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 4oz container of feta crumbles (2 Tablespoons reserved)
- 1/2 jar marinated artichokes, lightly drained & finely chopped (1 Tablespoon of liquid marinade reserved)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded (2 Tablespoons reserved; Please use the real thing, not the dry stuff in the green plastic jar)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2.25oz can of black olives, sliced (or your favorite olive variety)
- 24oz jar of marinara (Use your favorite sauce - I didn't have any homemade marina, so I had to use commercially canned sauce)
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
||Boil lasagne noodles in salted water with a little olive oil added until they are cooked just enough to be bendable. If you cook them too long, they will be mushy and fall apart when you roll them. |
Drain and hold in colander until ready to roll.
While the noodles are cooking, saute the onions, peppers, cauliflower in a pan drizzled with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Salt and pepper lightly. After a few minutes, add about half of the prepared pesto and continue cooking until veggies are softened, but not mushy.
Add spinach, mushrooms, garlic and basil to the saute pan and continue cooking over a low-medium heat. Do not allow the garlic to scorch or it becomes bitter tasting. Let the spinach really wilt down so the liquid is eliminated - or your rolls will be too watery.
||While veggies are sauteing, mix the egg, ricotta, feta, Parmesan, artichokes, spices, reserved artichoke marinade, the rest of the pesto and olives together in a medium sized bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. |
Add the veggie mixture to the cheese mixture and stir until completely combined
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon some sauce into a lightly greased 9x13" baking pan, so it just covers the bottom.
Working on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, lay out the noodles and spoon a couple of heaping spoons-full of the filling along the middle of each noodle. Stop the filling about 2 inches before one end of the noodle. Carefully roll up the noodle, starting at the filled end. The filling will squish to the end of the noodle as you roll it. Place seam side down into the pan.
Once all rolls are complete, spoon the rest of the sauce over the rolls and top with reserved Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, then uncover and sprinkle rolls with parsley and reserved feta and continue baking, uncovered for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes before serving so they won't fall apart.
The Hubs and I hotly debated the lack of meat in this recipe when I was planning it. He wanted me to add some Italian sausage or at least some diced chicken, but I wanted to see how it turned out as a vegetarian recipe. In the end, he said he didn't miss the meat (that secret cauliflower did the trick!), but you could certainly add your favorite protein to this dish. Just add it to the saute pan with the veggies in the beginning.
As I mentioned above, this a very freezable dish. Freeze before baking (whole pan or individual rolls), then defrost, pop in the oven or microwave and you have a super fast lunch or dinner on a hectic day. I think it would also work well to make the day before or early on party day, then hold in the fridge until you're ready to cook (increase cooking time due to the cold ingredients).
I would definitely make this one again - and I think it's definitely party-worthy! I encourage you to play around with the ingredients to suit your tastes - or your pantry's contents. I think a white pesto cream sauce would also be really great on these rolls, too. Mmmm....will have to try that, for sure!
Leave a comment and let me know how your rolls turn out.