Pesto Lasagna Rolls

May 26, 2022

– Chef Judy Corace (pesto recipe adapted from Taste of Home)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 lasagna noodles

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 large egg

2 cups whole milk ricotta

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 1/4 cup grated parmesan

4 cups loosley packed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, halved

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1. First, make the basil pesto by placing the 4 cups of loosely packed basil, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 2 halved garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a food processor; cover and pulse until chopped. Add the 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts; cover and process until blended. While processing, gradually add the 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a steady stream.

2. Position an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles 1 minute longer than the package directions for al dente. The pasta should be tender enough that it will roll without cracking. Drain well and rinse with cold water. Lay in a single layer on baking sheet.

4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and is the consistency of a thin gravy, 6 to 8 minutes. Allow the béchamel sauce to cool slightly.

5. Beat the egg in a large bowl and the stir in the ricotta, spinach, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, 1/2 cup of the pesto, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup pesto into the slightly cooled béchamel sauce.

6. Brush a 13- by 9- inch baking dish with oil. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto-béchamel sauce on to the bottom of the dish.

7. Lay half of the cooked lasagna noodles on a clean work surface and spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture evenly over each. Starting with the short end, roll each noodle up. As you make the rolls, transfer them to the prepared baking dish seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon the remaining pesto-béchamel sauce over the lasagna rolls and sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until the rolls are heated through and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is browned on top, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if using, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.