Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lasgna Round Up with Pesto Alfredo Sauce

Lasagna  roll ups with spinch/pesto Alfredo sauce.  It's not at all photogenic but it's incredibly good as a side dish or a main, meat free course.

You can make the pesto and lasagna bundles ahead and freeze, then just make the sauce before putting it in the oven.

Lasagna bundles

1 (15 oz) container Ricotta Cheese
1 large egg
1 small handful of Italian Parsley (about 1/3 cup) chopped
a small pinch of red pepper
2  and 1/4 cups freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup freshly, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup freshly, finely grated asiago cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles

Cook lasagna noodles until al dente (you want firm as they will cook further in the oven) in a large pot of boiling  salted water  that has a small splash of olive oil added to it.   

When cooked, drain and lay out on waxed paper to cool and dry slightly (any extra noodles can be chopped for soup or stir fry)

Whisk ricotta, egg, salt and peppers together in a large mixing bowl until combined.  Stir in parsley and cheese until well combined.

Spread a generous 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto each cooked lasagna noodle, roll up jellyroll style and place on waxed paper while you make the sauce. If you wish to make ahead and freeze, assemble as instructed with sauce,  cover with foil and cook at 400 F. degrees (not 375) for 45 minutes, uncover and cook another 12 - 15 minutes)

Pesto Alfredo sauce

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic roasted and minced
dash of nutmeg
1 and 3/4 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons cream cheese or cooking creme (if you don't have any, increase heavy cream to 2 cups)
1/4 heaping teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (if you grate it yourself it's smoother than the pre-grated for some reason)
2 teaspoons parsley
1/2 heaping cup mozzarella cheese
1 recipe homemade pesto, or 3 Tablespoons of store pesto in a jar or one package Knorr Pesto sauce mix (in the seasoning aisle), prepared as directed with oil and water.

Melt butter and olive oil  in medium sized pan over medium/low heat.

Add the garlic, cream, and cream cheese, bringing mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.

Add the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, parsley and pesto and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and is smooth.

When sauce has thickened add the Mozzarella cheese and stir constantly until smooth.   If it's too thick add a tablespoon of milk or chicken stock.

While this cooks (3-5 minutes) quickly saute about 1/3 of a bag of fresh spinach in a pan very lightly brushed with olive oil and a dash of garlic powder until wilted (use only a minimum of oil or a non stick cooking spray, you don't want extra oil).

Remove Alfredo sauce from heat and add spinach.  Pour a cup into the bottom of a cooking pan.  Place 4-8 lasagna bundles seam side down (I cooked five so there was lots of yummy sauce left). Pour remainder of sauce over lasagna bundles and tent lightly with foil (should not touch sauce).  Bake in preheated 375 F. degree oven for 35 minutes.  Stir sauce around bundles before serving.

Homemade Pesto (can make up to four days ahead, put just enough EVOO on top to cover and keep from drying out).

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil (use really good quality oil)
1 cup grated Parmesan

Finely chop basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food  processor. With machine running, gradually add olive oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in 1/2 Parmesan. Transfer to a small jar, cover and keep in fridge, drain off excess oil before adding it to alfredo sauce.

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