With it now being the middle of March, and Saint Patrick’s Day fast approaching, a lot of people’s thoughts are turning to springtime and fresh Spring dishes. What better way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Lasagna Love style than with a green lasagna? This twist on lasagna brings a visual dash of springtime to your plate of comfort food. The spinach pasta is also a sneaky way to get picky eaters to eat their leafy greens!
This is kind of a reimagined version of lasagna with the servings pre-portioned and the tomato sauce going over the whole piece instead of in between the layers. You can use either jarred or homemade tomato sauce in this dish. Since there are already so many elements to prepare here, I decided to go with jarred sauce.
It’s also a very flexible dish. The seasoning can be adjusted to fit your preference and the filling ingredients can be altered based on what you have on hand. When I first made this recipe, I happened to have some leftover Italian sausage, a bunch of fresh spinach, and a container of ricotta, so the filling really presented itself to me.
Using fresh pasta for lasagna seemed a little bit scary to me at first, just because I wasn’t totally sure how to go about cooking the noodles, but I ended up using them just as I would no-boil lasagna sheets out of a box and it turned out great!
I make the green pasta dough by blending fresh spinach and eggs in my Vitamix, and then mixing that with flour. Any blender will work, but the Vitamix gets it to a really smooth consistency so if you’re using a different blender, you might still see some flecks of spinach in the dough.
The type of flour used in your fresh pasta makes a difference here. If you can’t find semolina flour, all-purpose flour can be used, but it’s important to note the traits of each type of flour. Semolina brings a rich golden color to pasta dough, and when combined with spinach or parsley, this can lead to a brighter green color. Pasta made with semolina flour also tends to have a firmer bite. If you go with all-purpose flour for your green pasta, the color may be slightly darker and the finished pasta will be a little softer, but still equally delicious!
This recipe makes enough pasta and filling for at least 8 rolls, with plenty of leftover ingredients to work with. Since it’s just my husband and me right now, I made four for us one night, and wrapped up the rest of the ingredients so I can make this dish again later in the week. If you decide to make half of these rolls one night and wait and make the rest another night, do note that fresh pasta dough keeps up to two days in the refrigerator when tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. After that, it will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months when tightly wrapped and stored in a freezer-safe bag or container.
Green Lasagna Roll-Ups
For the Pasta:
- 4 Eggs
- 10 oz Fresh Spinach
- 2 ¾ cup Semolina Flour
For the Filling:
- 1 ½ lbs Ground Italian Sausage (or other meat of your choice
- 10 oz Bunch Fresh Spinach
- ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- 1 clove of Garlic, Diced
- ½ tsp Salt
- Pepper (divided into two measurements of ½ tsp)
- 32 oz Ricotta Cheese
- 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese
- Dried Basil (divided into 1 ½ tsp and ½ tsp)
- Dried Oregano (divided into 1 ½ tsp and ½ tsp)
- Dried Parsley (divided into 1 ½ tsp and ½ tsp)
- To begin preparing the pasta dough, rinse the first 10 oz bunch of kale, remove the spines, and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cook the spinach by blanching it in an inch of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the spinach from boiling water and rinse briefly to make it cool enough to handle. Using a thin towel or cheesecloth, squeeze the excess liquid out of the cooked spinach.
- In a blender, puree the spinach and eggs until the mixture is smooth and dark green. Depending on what blender you use, you may have some bits of spinach in your puree. This is totally fine and will not affect the taste.
- Scoop the semolina flour onto a clean countertop and make a well in the middle for the spinach and egg mixture. Pour the mixture into the well and use a fork to combine. Once the puree and the flour are mostly incorporated, use your hands to knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. At this point, the dough should feel tacky but should not stick to your hands. Store your pasta dough under a damp towel and let it sit for about an hour.
- While the pasta dough is resting, rinse the second bunch of spinach. Remove the spines and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cook the Italian sausage in a pan over medium-high heat until it is brown throughout, breaking the pieces up with your spatula as it cooks. Once no pink remains, add the garlic, chopped spinach, red pepper flakes (if using), and ½ tsp each of pepper, basil, oregano, and parsley. Stir until the spinach is wilted, then set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, salt, and the remaining pepper, basil, oregano and parsley until well combined. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Divide your pasta dough into four balls. Using either a pasta maker or a rolling pin, roll the first ball of dough out until you have a long, very thin pasta sheet. Divide the sheet into two pieces width-wise, and then each of those pieces into two, length-wise. You should now have four thin pasta sheets. Repeat this process with the other dough balls until you have the desired amount of sheets (each small sheet will make a single serving.)
- Line your pasta sheets up parallel to one another. Spoon ½ cup of the cheese filling onto each sheet and use a spoon to spread the filling along the length of the sheet. Be sure to leave a ½ inch of space at each end of the sheet to make for easier rolling. Sprinkle the sausage and spinach filling evenly on top of the cheese filling. Starting at one end, roll each pasta sheet up into a spiral. If any filling has been squeezed out through the side of the roll, gently push it back in using your fingers or the backside of a spoon.
- Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a glass or foil baking dish. Gently place each lasagna roll up on top of the sauce and cover each roll with another layer of sauce. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella and parmesan over each roll, tent the baking dish with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Take the dish out, remove the foil, and bake for another 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Thanks for reading and happy cooking!