Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In the Kitchen With Chris: Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

A few weeks ago I told you all about my goal to start trying to expand my culinary horizons. I felt like I was leaning too heavily on chicken and pasta, and I wasn't really learning anything new. So I decided to make it my goal to start cooking meals that didn't feature either of these. The problem is, according to Pinterest, chicken and pasta are the only foods that exist.

Correction, there are three foods on Pinterest. Spaghetti Squash is apparently a thing, but it's an abomination and I refuse to acknowledge it.

 I've been looking for easy, tasty recipes for a month, and I found a bunch: Ranch Breaded Chicken, Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Shells, Cajun Chicken Alfredo, Crockpot Orange Chicken.


I briefly considered a recipe for a crockpot Broccoli Cheese Soup, but it's main ingredient was Cheese Whiz, and it could feed 20, so I felt like that was a step in the wrong direction. I settled on Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups. Yes, it's a pasta, but Rome wasn't built in a day, people. Lasagna is actually one of the dishes that I do really well (it's what I usually prepare on that third or fourth date when you're trying to impress boys with your cooking skills). And, bonus, it's got spinach in it which is a super food (apparently)!

Someone please explain to me exactly what the f#%! a super food is.

I'm getting the hang of grocery shopping. I made a list of all the things I'd need before I went, and I left with only what was on my list. Well...and some Diet Coke, but to be fair, Diet Coke doesn't need to be added to any list because figuring out when I'm going to get my next fix is kind of always just gnawing at the back of my mind.

The ingredients:

1lb Lasagna Noodles
15 oz Ricotta
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
1 Large Egg 
10 oz Frozen Spinach
2.5 Cups Marinara Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

I had exactly none of this, so I needed to buy it all, but once I figured out what the hell ricotta was, it was a completely painless shopping trip! My grocery bill still ended up being right around $20 (and most of that was obscene amounts of aspartame filled happiness). Not bad considering I was planning on spreading this out into multiple meals!

My kitchen was actually clean enough to cook in (growing. the f#%!. up.), but not quite clean enough to be taking pictures of the progress in (plus the colander probably had some baby drool on it from last week). So I did the dishes first.

I'm not blessed enough to have a dishwasher, so I've got to do them all by hand. It takes fooooooorever, so it's always the one chore that I put off until I absolutely have to do it. Usually it's at about the point that I'm using salad tongs to eat Mac and Cheese directly from the pot (not being hyperbolic, actually happened). I just recently realized that the reason it takes so long is my complete unwillingness to stop halfway through and clear the drying rack. Towards the end the entire task becomes a nerve-wracking game of dishes Jenga.

All that Tetris really payed off
The actual cooking of the meal started out rather less well than I'd hoped. I didn't really think through how to cook a pound of lasagna noodles (I usually just use the oven ready ones). So when I put them in the pot and they didn't all fit, I had a bit of a panic attack. I suppose I could have cooked them in two batches, filling the first while the second was cooking, but that's entirely too logical. Instead I jammed them all in and frantically tried to bend them all in the boiling water so I didn't have half crunchy noodles.

Once I got the noodles submerged (and my heart rate slowed), I popped the spinach in the microwave to thaw. I was instructed to squeeze any excess water from the bag before adding it to the cheese mixture. So I grabbed it and gave it a good squeeze before realizing that it was approximately three hundred trillion degrees, burning the shit out of my hands.

Doesn't look all that super to me
I mixed in the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesean, and the egg to form the filling. I then layed out the lasagna noodles and added a thin layer of the filling to each one before rolling them up and putting them in a 9" x 12" glass casserole dish coated with non-stick spray. Next I coated the top with marinara (whatever pasta sauce was on sale) sauce, covered in foil, and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Not Pictured: The other three pieces of garlic bread I ate
You can find the original recipe that I used here (and you can follow me on Pinterest here).

If I'm being completely honest, they turned out kind of just okay. I remembered after about the third bite that I've made almost this exact recipe before, but with manicotti (while trying to impress a boy), and I didn't really love it then either (I suppose the same could be said for the boy). They taste fine, they're just a little bland and taste like they're missing something...

Chicken, maybe?

Who knows, maybe I'll change my tune as I eat my way through a week and a half's worth of leftovers.


  1. What you need is a soup recipe so you can have delicious soup and freeze the leftovers! How about Hamburger Vegetable Soup like I posted in Facebook the other day? Want the recipe?

    1. Definitely! I've never made soup, so it'll be an opportunity fir growth! :)

  2. I can give you a butternut squash soup recipe, its easy to make and delicious... see I do read your blog :)

    -Dan Oswald (Mat's roomie)