Lasagna Party Rolls with Red and White Sauce

lasagna rolls

I recently made these lasagna rolls for a holiday party that we hosted, I first thought of making a couple of trays of lasagna but I opted for this instead, individual lasagna rolls. Assembly can be made the day before and kept in the fridge overnight so all your prep, the mess in the kitchen is done ahead and the day of the party all you have to do is stick it into the oven.

This is so much easier to serve your guests, no cutting involved and each roll is a perfect little package that’s easy to grab and go on a buffet table.

lasagna rolls

The lasagna rolls are filled with three different cheeses mixed with fresh spinach that has been wilted down, squeezed of all liquid then chopped and added in. The rolls are placed on a bed of bechamel and topped with homemade marinara.

I have to give credit to Giada for adding the bechamel sauce, yes it’s an extra step but it really makes the rolls taste extra special, definitely party worthy!

lasagna roll prep

I used those full size catering pans, ( I get mine from Costco) they’re really sturdy and hold up very well when taking them in and out of the oven. I was able to fit 27 rolls in one pan which basically is two, 1 lb. boxes of lasagna noodles.

I always drain my ricotta overnight in a strainer, over a bowl and covered in my fridge, you’d be surprised how much liquid drains out. Draining the fresh ricotta is an important step because you don’t want a watery mixture spread onto the lasagna noodles.

Have your marinara sauce made ahead of time as well as your bechamel, I always have homemade marinara in my freezer so I just defrosted mine a couple of days ahead. In this case I also had some frozen, leftover bechamel I had made before so I defrosted it and added a little more milk to thin it out when I warmed it up, and it was perfectly fine.

So for a big party you can prep many of the components way ahead of time before actually assembling the rolls, I would never make all of the components in one day!

One other important note to remember, undercook your pasta, the pasta will finish cooking in the oven anyway, also when you take them out of the water place them single layer on a tray so they won’t stick together and pat each noodle dry before you start the actual rolling process.

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Each time you pick up a roll you’ll be scooping up that rich white sauce that’s on the bottom which mingles so well with the marinara on top.

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I hope you consider these for your next party when needing a delicious pasta dish that’s easy to serve and eat for your guests.

These lasagna rolls were a hit at my party and I’m sure they’ll be a hit at yours!

Follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Lasagna Party Rolls with Red and White Sauce
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 boxes of lasagna noodles, with curly edges, around 15 noodles in each box, I used Barilla brand
  • RICOTTA MIXTURE
  • 3 lb. fresh, good quality ricotta, drained overnight.
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups pecorino or parmigiano grated cheese
  • 1 cup grated fontina cheese and extra for topping each roll
  • 2 small grated garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons of bechamel
  • 1½ cups of chopped spinach, I used fresh spinach, (I like the taste better than frozen,) that I wilted down then squeezed of all liquid before chopping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • BECHAMEL SAUCE
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup, flour
  • 4 cups, whole milk
  • ⅓ cup grated pecorino or parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • MARINARA SAUCE
  • I had a few quarts because you want extra when your serving your rolls. I would say just make a pot of sauce ahead of time and you'll be fine, if you have some leftover it's a good thing.
  • parsley or basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Prepare your BECHAMEL by melting butter then adding the flour and whisking vigorously so no lumps occur, pour in the milk and keep whisking until nice and smooth, as it gets hotter and starts to bubble around the edges it should thicken up and coat the back of a spoon, then shut off the heat and add the grated cheese then taste for seasoning of salt and pepper.
  2. If using a large, full size catering pan like I suggest you might need to make more because you need to have it cover the whole bottom of the pan.
  3. Your favorite homemade MARINARA sauce should be made ahead of time.
  4. Place your RICOTTA in a very large bowl, add the garlic, grated cheese, fontina, the 3 tablespoons of bechamel and before you add the beaten eggs taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper.
  5. Mix in the beaten eggs making sure it's all incorporated.
  6. Then wilt, drain, squeeze and chop your SPINACH and gently fold it into the well mixed ricotta mixture making sure it's evenly dispersed.
  7. Cook your LASAGNA NOODLES in salted boiling water with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. I cooked mine for 8 minutes.
  8. Drain pasta immediately and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, place them single layer and pat them dry.
  9. ASSEMBLY
  10. Spread bechamel white sauce on the bottom of the catering pan all over from corner to corner.
  11. One by one take a lasagna noodle and spread abut 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture from top to bottom, then roll up and place seam side down into the pan on top of the white sauce.
  12. Repeat until the pan is full ( I fit 27 in a large catering pan, 3 rows of nine each).
  13. Top each roll with marinara down the middle, leaving the curly part of the noodle un-sauced.
  14. Sprinkle each with grated cheese and a quick drizzle of olive oil all over.
  15. Cover with heavy duty foil.
  16. At this point you can refrigerate and bake them off the next day which I recommend for party prepping.
  17. The next day when you're ready to bake, take them out of the fridge an hour or so ahead of time to get pan to room temp then place the covered rolls into a 400 degree oven for around 20 minutes.
  18. Remove pan from oven and take off the foil, add a little more sauce on top if need be and a tablespoon or so of fontina cheese on top of each roll.
  19. Return to the oven, uncovered until the cheese melts and curly edges get a little golden brown.
  20. Let them rest for 5 minutes and garnish with chopped parsley or basil.
  21. Have extra marinara warmed up for serving if need be.

 

 

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Party and Picnic Timpano

timpano With the Fourth of July right around the corner and the many other celebrations that will be going on this summer, like graduations, family reunions, picnics, birthdays and loads of other get- togethers, I thought I would bring back the idea of making a timpano. What’s a timpano you might ask?

A timpano is a huge round drum or dome of delicious crust that is filled with pasta, meatballs, salami, cheeses and sauce, it is self contained, huge and feeds a crowd, It’s party food to the max and has a ton of WOW factor!

timpano Timpano was made famous by the movie Big Night, staring Stanley Tucci. The timpano, (which is the real star of the movie),was actually his moms recipe. I’ve been making it for special occasions and parties since the first time I saw the movie and bought his cookbook many years ago.

I love this scene in the movie, the first time we saw it, both my kids said “mom you got to make that! ” And I’ve been doing it ever since.

timpano pan The vessel you cook it in is VERY important so as to get the right shape, it looks like a big basin made out of old enamelware. I took a permanent magic marker and wrote my name on the back, this will be a family heirloom that will be past down to my kids with lots of happy memories attached. This is the pan I use.

homemade marinara Since I’ve made it so many times I sort of simplified the sauce, Stanley’s family makes a meaty ragu, I just make my homemade marinara, it’s much lighter and not as heavy, besides there’s so much going on inside with all the other ingredients. The mini meatballs I just make ahead of time and bake them.

timpano ingredients As far as all the ingredients go everything can be prepped ahead of time which is a great time saver for a big party going on. Like I said I make my marinara, cook up my mini meatballs, pre -cook the pasta (very al’dente), cook my eggs and chop up my cheese and salami. Everything gets put into a ziplock bag and ready for assembly.

timpano ingredients Even the dough I make the night before so it’s all prepped and ready, just make sure it’s at room temperature before you start rolling it out.

You see it’s really not that daunting of a recipe to make, don’t let it scare you, it’s fairly simple, a little time consuming with the prep, but then that’s it! The day you put it together will be a breeze and no clean up.

rolling timpano dough For all the years I have been making timpano I can honestly say I have NEVER had any problems with the dough, it always comes out perfect!

rolled out timpano dough Just take your time rolling it so that it drapes way over the pan, you’re going to be filling it with some heavy stuff and you’ll need to be able to close it up with out any of the ingredients showing.

 Fill it to the brim!

timpano Sauce it one last time then wrap it up like a present and bake it.

baked timpano The smells are unbelievable!

cooked timpano But I have to stress a very important step, LET IT REST, a good 45 minutes to an hour, think turkey rest, otherwise you will cut into it and it will be a big saucy mess, you won’t be able to slice it into nice wedges. You know how lasagna is when you try and cut it piping hot? It’s a hot mess, you don’t want that.

I have taken this whole, baked piping hot timpano, wrapped it up in heavy towels and brought it to picnics and family reunions where it would be sitting for 2 hours and it was still hot when I cut into it, just remember if you transport it you need something to cut it on and a good serrated knife. Did I mention it feeds a ton?

cut open timpano This is fun party food, people will be talking about it and craving it for your next gathering. It’s just some basic Italian essentials all wrapped up in a crusty drum of pasta dough where all the flavors meld together in perfect harmony with amazing results!

timpano wedge Try to stash a piece for your self the next day, leftovers are awesome.

slice of timpano

Stanley Tucci’s original timpano recipe is here, but remember I replace his rich ragu with my lighter homemade marinara.

Otherwise follow his directions to the tee I should show you my own personal copy of this recipe, it’s filled with yellow highlighted marks all over.

Study the recipe well, once a good friend of mine made this for a very special occasion, she forgot one important step, covering it with foil, the top burned, she cried…

Go ahead now, make a timpano for your next party or picnic, no need to be intimidated.

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week on Instagram, you can follow me here.

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Ravioli for a Crowd!

I’ve been in party mode and haven’t really cooked “normal” for a while, so I thought I would share with you how I prepped for a recent party I had for 26 with the main course being 200 homemade ravioli.
Homemade ravioli holds a special place in my heart because I can remember my mom and aunt making them together when my cousins and I were very young, white sheets covering dining room tables and beds, filled with drying ravioli. Today I make them a little different, no more drying on sheets, instead they go right into the freezer after they’re made.

All the ravioli were made a few days before and tucked away in my freezer ready for the big day, we made two different versions, meat and cheese.

Because I would be cooking so many ravioli at one time, there was no way I wanted to be boiling them while my house was filled with people, so I opted to make them the night before, something I’ve never done.

During the week prior to my party I went to a local restaurant supply store and bought commercial size heavy duty foil sheet pans, they were perfect to lay my ravioli on in a single layer.
They were huge and covered my whole oven rack, and even though I don’t have a commercial size oven I made them fit by slightly folding up the sides.

All my sauce was cooked ahead of time so assembling was pretty easy. After spreading sauce all over the bottom of the sheet pans I placed my slightly undercooked ravioli on top, single layer, placing more sauce on top. After they cooled down I sprinkled grated Pecorino on top and covered the pans with heavy duty aluminum foil and placed them in my second fridge, ( it’s older and has bigger shelves).

The day of the party I took them out of the fridge and got them to room temperature and with the foil still on, I baked them for only 15 minutes in a 350 oven until warmed through, after they were done I dolloped more warmed sauce on top and they were good to go! For a big crowd this was the perfect way to make them, no hot boiling pots all over the place, all that was done in advance.

Thanks to my family, all my dear cousins and their families for such a fun night!
So if you ever doubted cooking ravioli ahead of time for a large crowd like I did, no worries because it was a complete success!

Buon Appetito!
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Spring Rolls, Italian Style!

I love spring rolls, but have always been intimidated by them. Maybe it’s because it’s an Asian thing and that’s totally out of my league. I heard horror stories of spring roll skins ripping and sticking together, but even so I was determined to try them!

I wanted to make these for our annual picnic at Ravinia last August, but chickened out at the last minute for fear I would ruin it all. Spring rolls are light, not fried, usually filled with fresh veggies, chicken or shrimp, always accompanied by a delicious dipping sauce, and best of all, everything is enclosed in a pretty little package, easy to handle, great to transport, perfect for a picnic, as a light appetizer, or even a light lunch.

Well I’m happy to say the whole process was very easy! I actually made Asian spring rolls first, with shrimp, shredded carrots, cabbage, cilantro and a little hoisen sauce in each. We dipped them in a great Asian sauce I got from Trader Joe’s.

But since this is an Italian food blog I wanted to do a little twist on the classic and try making them Italian style!

All you do is take your wrappers, place them in warm water til they melt a little and become limp. I then laid each wrapper on a clean dish towel and padded them dry
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I had all my ingredients ready, cooked shrimp, marinated artichokes, (drained), roasted red pepper strips, and raw zucchini, julienned. Next, I placed everything onto a wrapper with a dollop of basil pesto, a drizzle of olive oil, a little salt and pepper, then rolled it all up like a burrito!

For my Italian version I used basil pesto as a dipping sauce, but I want to experiment with other things. Do any of you have any idea’s? I would love your input.

Next time you’re hesitant about trying something out of your comfort zone, don’t be, give it a try, because these were amazing!!

Have a relaxing weekend, and Buon Appetito!!

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CHEESECAKE POPS! ( Daring Bakers)

This happened to be a very timely challenge for me, because yesterday my daughter and I hosted a personal shower for my neice. I thought “what a great idea, I’ll make these for the shower!” Considering I had a bunch of other things to cook and bake for the shower, this might not have been such a good idea! Doing something new and unfamiliar, then dipping and decorating them, and of course taking pictures! Well you know what I mean!!
Thursday night I baked the cheesecake which by the way, took me 65 min. to bake. My oven is only 2 years old and very accurate, so I set the timer for the 35 to 45 min. that the recipe called for, but it just didn’t set. Other than that, I had no problems at all!

Here is the perfectly set and cooled cheesecake!

This months challenge of these DECADENT Cheesecake Pops, was hosted by two ladies, Elle, of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah, at Taste and Tell. Go over to their blogs to check out the whole recipe. I have to admit these little pops were quite a hit at the shower, I got alot of “Ooooh’s” and “Ahhhh’s” A big thanks to them both!

As far as the melting of the chocolate, I did mine in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, it turned out nice and glossy and stuck to the frozen cheesecake balls perfectly.

I decided to decorate the lolipop stick with pipe cleaners, they were super easy to bend around, and I liked the color it added. Great for a Girlie shower!!

I got a little carried away with what I decorated them with. Here is what I used:

Mini chocolate chips

Sprinkles

Coconut

Chopped pecans

Crushed Oreo cookies

Plain chocolate

Crushed Skors toffee bar

Crushed Biscotti ( of course I had to get something Italian in there!)

These one bite wonders are perfect for any party, trust me, they’re worth it!!

Please check out some of the other Daring Bakers amazing Cheesecake Pops here.

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MEATBALL SLIDERS!!!!

I have to admit, after seeing the September issue of Bon Appetite, with the cover being Meatball Sliders, I knew this was something I had to make! Sliders have a different meaning today, we use to think of them as tiny greasy burgers, well a lot has changed!! Now these tiny Gourmet mini sandwiches are popping up all over the place . Some of the Best Restaurants, Bar’s and Parties are serving up these little Jewels!!

I take pride in my meatballs! ( don’t we all?) only using the Best ingredients, and with some Good Home Made Sauce, I knew I could pull this off!! The hardest thing was trying to find good mini buns. Well after much searching I found them!!

As with Bon Appetite,I toasted the bun as well,which I think is key! Then place a couple of baby Arugula leaves on the bottom, 1 Meatball for each slider, a little dollop of sauce! and finally, a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano completes it!!! Can you imagine a tray of these at your next party?? They will be gone in a heartbeat!!
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