Aww, just look at all the gooey, soon to be stretched and strung (upon my no longer empty fork) cheese and dream of what could be yours =)! Italian comfort food at its finest.
The saying third times a charm, it’s true. Yes this is my third attempt at creating what I’d envisioned, and at last a beautifully delicious success.
The first time I tried Chicken Caprese lasagna roll ups – strange texture and not my favorite flavor, the second time around I omitted the chicken and made them using fresh Mozzarella – far to soupy and (I was expecting some liquid but I’m telling you half the baking dish was filled with the liquid from the fresh Mozza). The texture of the fresh Mozzarella seemed a little gummy when it melted too. So, the third time I went with a more traditional cheese feeling with the average low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese and lots of it, a bit of Parmesan for flavor and a little Ricotta for texture and glueage (I know that’s not a word, but I say it should be). The egg white also helps glue and bind the mixture together, I decided to omit the yolk because I wanted to keep my cheese filling nice and white so it has that Caprese-y look. Besides, omitting the egg yolk is my attempt at making them healthier. That’s laughable I know. I say cheese = calcium, so this is somehow good for me =).
This dish has everything you find in the traditional Caprese flavors and many of the traditional lasagna flavors. Really this is lasagna simplified both in flavor and preparation. With that I don’t mean to say their flavor is bland and boring, they are just simple yet incredible flavors. To create the Caprese style filling, you begin with a cheese filling that’s mostly Mozzarella, then it’s layered with fresh Roma tomato slices and sprinkled with fresh basil. Then you roll it up and top it with a simple marinara sauce made from crushed Roma tomatoes, and you sprinkle over more Mozzarella cheese, bake it and then garnish it with fresh basil ribbons. So, they are Caprese inside and out. I love the fresh flavors of this entree and all that heavenly cheese of course! Who knew vegetarian could be so good? Enjoy!
This is how the layering should look, this was attempt 2 with fresh Mozzarella (which I highly don’t recommend). I just didn’t want to take a third round of pictures of the prep, so the only difference when you make them will be the use of shredded mozzarella rather than the fresh Mozzarella in the bottom layer. The top picture was end result of recipe listed.
- 8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
- 14 oz freshly shredded, low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg white
- 1/3 cup freshly, finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 oz)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 - 4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/6 inch thick slices)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup marinara sauce, recipe follows
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package to al dente. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse with water) and align lasagna noodles in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.
- For filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and egg white until well blended. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Mix in 12 oz. of the Mozzarella cheese and season with black pepper to taste (I wouldn't recommend seasoning with salt just because the cheeses already have plenty of salt).
- Place 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and spread into an even layer, going from one end of the lasagna to the other. Align 4 thin tomato slices over cheese mixture then sprinkle fresh basil over top. Snugly roll lasagna noodles to opposite end. Spread about 1/4 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Align lasagna roll ups, seam side down in dish. Top each roll up with about 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce (covering edges of pasta so they don't dry out while baking). Sprinkle top with remaining 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate pasta and garnish with plenty of basil ribbons. Serve warm.
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions to hot oil and saute about 3 minutes until soft, adding garlic during last minute of sauteing. Pour in crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 25 - 30 minutes (which will allow some of the water in crushed tomatoes to evaporate) while you prepare pasta and lasagna filling (you can freeze or refrigerate left over sauce in a small airtight container for later use, adding fresh basil if desired).
- Recipe Source: Cooking Classy