Zucchini & Tomato Lasagna Rolls
Lasagna rolls with zucchini, tomatoes and cheese
Four strips of lasagna, one poor zucchini, a little cheese and an onion - could I make dinner for both of us with these? That was the problem I was faced with. Wow.
Thanks to a can of chopped tomatoes, some garlic and fresh basil from the garden, the answer was yes. I love the challenge of creating interesting meat-free recipes with the ingredients to hand and often, they become firm favorites and I make them time after time.
The small amount of pasta wasn't enough to create a proper lasagna of course but by rolling the other ingredients inside the cooked lasagna strips, this became quite a hearty meal served with some French bread.
I prefer recipes that are quick to prepare because I'm always so busy and he's always so hungry!
These are the items I used
To serve two people
- 4 strips lasagna
- 1 zucchini
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Cheese - I used brie to go inside the rolls and cheddar for the topping
- A little olive oil
Put a large pan on a high heat and three-quarters fill it with water and bring to the boil. My kettle boils water faster than the stove top does so I boil the water in there and then pour it into the pan. Fold the pasta slices into the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but keep the water at a rolling boil to keep the pasta moving so that it doesn't stick. The packet will tell you how long you need to boil the pasta.
The zucchini is then sliced along its length after being topped and tailed and thoroughly washed. Heat the oil in a skillet / frying pan and when it's warmed through, add the zucchini slices. Watch these carefully and turn them when necessary. You want the zucchini slices to be softened and if they become a little browned, that's fine too. Somehow this adds to the flavor.
ONIONS & GARLIC
Remove the zucchini from the pan and place in a lined sieve (see below). Keep the pan on the heat and add the chopped onion. Stir occasionally and after a few minutes add the chopped garlic. When the onion is soft, add the contents of the can of tomatoes, sauce and all. Simmer this gently. There are two other things you can do at this stage - season with salt and pepper (I just use pepper) and, if you have it, pour in a little red wine. If you'll be using the regular oven preheat to 400°.
DRAIN THE ZUCCHINI & PASTA
Place paper towel in a sieve and add the cooked zucchini slices. The paper will absorb the oil. Add another sheet of paper towel on top and pat gently. This too will absorb the oil. Still in the paper, put the zucchini aside while you strain the pasta which should now be perfectly cooked al dente Run the pasta under running cold water and then lay the sheets out on a chopping board or other clean surface.
Assemble the rolls
MAKE THE ROLLS
With the pasta strips flat on a work surface, add the zucchini slices. Add dabs of cheese (brie in this case) and fresh basil leaves. Of course, this is very open to experimentation. You could use other herbs or vegetables. I'm intend to try fresh baby spinach leaves in place of the basil. (When my basil plant gives up the ghost, as they always seem to. Does anyone have tips for keeping then alive?).
With a spoon, add some liquid from the sauce to an ovenproof dish. You only need enough to cover the bottom.
ROLL THE PASTA
Now just roll up each pasta strip and place in the oven-proof dish on top of the tomato sauce liquid. Pour the remaining tomato sauce on top and put into the oven.
Grate the remaining cheese. Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the cheese over the rolls and bake until the cheese is becoming golden. You can use the regular oven or a toaster or halogen oven if you prefer.
SERVE THE LASAGNA ROLLS
Plate the rolls and serve with the tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. This is good with a simple side salad and lovely bread from a French stick. The bread should be used to mop up the delicious tomato sauce!
Although I wouldn't claim that these lasagna vegetable roll ups are authentically Italian by any means, the inspiration certainly is. One of the wonderful features of Italian cooking, especially for vegetarians, is that many of the greatest Italian dishes come from peasant communities where money (hence meat and fish) is scarce. This means that traditionally, Italian recipes make the most of local produce - in other words local vegetables and cheese. There are some excellent recipe books that particularly feature Italian vegetarian cooking.
Italian wall art for your kitchen
Is Italian cooking the most popular in America? I was going to say England too where it's amazingly popular but Indian food supersedes it. But in America, or at least where I live, Italian restaurants are always packed and it can be hard to get a table. We solve this problem by often eating Italian-inspired dishes at home (which saves a lot of money) and a little inexpensive Italian style wall art, a bottle (or two) of red wine and a candle in a Chianti bottle quickly gives us the same atmosphere!
Lasagna or lasagne? Courgette or zucchini?
When I first came to live in the USA from England, there were many linguistic and spelling challenges. The linguistic ones were tricky because the area I come from in England has its own heavy dialect and although my two home countries both speak English, I sometimes felt that I was talking a foreign language. Spelling was tricky too and one example was lasagna.
You see, I was accustomed to lasagne. Yes, it's only the difference of one letter but it's the sort of pedantic detail my mind would become fixated with. It turns out that lasagna in Italian refers to a single strand of the pasta and lasagne is the plural. (A little like pizza and pizze). Even the spellchecker on my American computer doesn't accept lasagne as being a valid word.
And then there was the whole zucchini / courgette debaclé. I had convinced myself that for some bizarre reason, courgettes didn't exist in the States. Until I realized that they were going under the disguise of zucchini.
Thank goodness that a tomato is a tomato in both countries ... except my pronunciation is completely different. Oh dear.
All photographs taken on an iPhone in my kitchen during the preparation of this meat-free lasagna dish.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson