August 12, 2016
4 Cheese and Mushroom Rolled Lasagna
When I was 22 I spent an amazing summer backpacking through Europe. I traveled through 13 countries in all and not surprisingly, Italy landed at the top of my favorite’s list. Out of the many countries I visited that summer, Italy was the one I spent the longest time exploring and the one I had the hardest time leaving. Nearly 2 1/2 weeks of eating my way through that beautiful country (and my weight in gelato while I was at it) it was there that I truly fell in love with Italian food and have been chasing the perfection of flavor I experienced there ever since. From the pizza in Rome (margherita of course with the absolute thinnest crust and hand-pulled mozzarella) to freshest of olive oils dressing our salads as we camped in countryside olive groves, to discovering my favorite pasta the way it was always meant to be: spaghetti carbonara with handmade noodles, fresh egg and Pecorino cheese (made locally of course), I can't say there was a single thing I tried while in Italy that wasn't absolutely, knock-your-socks-off delicious. As much as I ate on that trip, I didn't get my fill of Italian food, not even close. To this day when I order a favorite Italian dish at a restaurant I find myself comparing it to when I first had it in Italy. Not surprisingly, it rarely measures up, which is why I so often chose to cook Italian at home. I'm on a never ending quest to “get it right” (whatever that means) and so I practice it...a lot. Like most things in life, I find the simpler, the better. Starting with the best ingredients is key. The wrong sauce or tomato purée and game over. I've had a lot of game overs and am always looking for just the right ingredients as my jumping off points, because the best Italian food (I believe) let's the ingredients speak for themselves.
It's beautiful, earthy, comforting, and simple, exactly what I'm looking for in my homemade Italian food.
Visiting import stores for truly Italian ingredients can be time consuming and expensive, so imagine my thrill when Fred Meyer announced their new Taste of Italy product line. Yes, they're products made directly in Italy, sold at my local grocery store. Natalie and I were so exciting to start exploring what the new line had to offer, so we decided to create something that we’ve been thinking of attempting for a while: rolled lasagna. Who doesn't love lasagna? Really the only thing not to love about it is how it presents in the dish, but this rolled version solves all of that. It's beautiful, earthy, comforting, and simple, exactly what I'm looking for in my homemade Italian food.
We used Orti D’Italia Pasta Sauce, which had a bright, complex flavor, and the tastiest Colavita Extra Virgin Olive oil, both from Fred Meyer’s imported line of Taste of Italy products. I'm not usually one to take shortcuts with my tomato sauce, but the richness of this sauce was on par if not surpassing the quality of sauce I normally make myself if using canned tomatoes when garden fresh aren't available (and it doesn't hurt that it saved me a good chunk of time, either). Once the lasagna was assembled and baked to perfection, we paired it with Fontella brand Chianti wine, some of the best I've had this side of the pond, and Natalie and I, along with our editor Alyssa, enjoyed the loveliest outdoor lunch any of us have had in quite some time. It might not be Italy, but a beautiful serving of rolled lasagna layered with bright and earthy flavors, the perfect pairing of Chianti wine and good friends on a sunny afternoon isn't half bad. Until the next time I get to my beloved Italy, I can have a piece of it in my own home thanks to Fred Meyer Stores.
4 Cheese and Mushroom Rolled Lasagna
|4 tbsp||Colavatia Extra Virgin Olive Oil|
|1 lb||crimini mushrooms, finely chopped|
|4 tbsp||garlic, minced|
|1 lb||lasagna noodles|
|32 oz||ricotta cheese|
|5 oz||goat cheese|
|1 cup||flat leaf parsley, finely chopped|
|1 tbsp||kosher salt|
|1 tbsp||freshly ground black pepper|
|16 oz||fresh mozzarella|
|1||jar Orti D'Italia pasta sauce|
|red pepper flakes|
|10||fresh basil leaves, chopped|
|good parmesan cheese|
- Bring a large stock pot filled 3/4 of the way full with water to a boil.
- Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 3 minutes longer until all of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Remove mushroom mixture from heat.
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Add 1 ½ tablespoons salt to boiling water and carefully insert all of the lasagna noodles to the boiling water. Boil for 6 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix together the ricotta and goat cheese. Add the parsley, mushroom mixture, salt and pepper. Stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Place a large piece of parchment or wax paper on your counter. Drain lasagna noodles, rinse with cold water and drizzle with a few teaspoons of olive oil to ensure they don’t stick together. Lay individual lasagna noodles out flat on the parchment paper. Spread 1/3 cup of the cheese and mushroom filling on each of the lasagna noodles. Cut the fresh mozzarella paper thin and divide it among the lasagna noodles about 3 slices for each noodle.
- Pour 3/4 cup sauce into the bottom of a 5 quart Dutch oven. Roll each lasagna noodle and carefully place it upright in the pot, taking care that they don't tip over until all of them are tightly in place. Alternatively you can use a 9 x 13 baking dish and place them on their sides, crease side down.
- Pour the remaining pasta sauce over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with red pepper flakes, fresh basil, and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.