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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meaty Rollotini...for a crowd!

 So...it's no secret I haven't been quite as able to get things done ever since the birth of #4.  He's a needy boy, but he's cute, so it's OK.  Needless to say, there haven't been as many home cooked meals as I would like to provide for my fam as of late.  Kellan was having a good day today...so, I quickly scanned my fridge to see what I had in there...some spinach that needed to be used up, half a container of ricotta cheese, other various cheeses and some marinara sauce I had taken out of the fridge.  I was craving something meaty, cheesy and pasta-y!  Meaty Rollotini is what I can up with...and it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  This is how I made it if you want to try it out on your fam...it was super easy and the kids gave it a thumbs up- I even snuck a HUGE bag of spinach in there and they have no idea!
 Grab a 2 year old sous chef...if you don't have a 2 year old, I guess it will be OK, you will just finish the process in half the time...

 get a large pot of water boiling...
 have your sous chef peel a bunch of clementine oranges and then throw them on the floor...this part is optional
 another reason I decided to make this is because I needed some space in my freezer and this meat was taking up too much space- I used 2 lbs of ground beef but I'm going to try chicken next time...I think chicken would be yummy (there's also a frozen bag of marinara sauce I pulled out too)
 I think pasta sauce is one of the best opportunities to sneak a whole bunch of veggies in and the kids (and your husband) won't even know...I used 5 cups of fresh spinach
 add your lasagna noodles once the water is boiling (PS, Mary (my neighboor) I just realized I STILL have this pot and I think it's yours...???)...
 be sure to sprinkle a couple teaspoons of salt into the water...I really like Costco's Sea Salt
 chop up your spinach in batches so you can get it pretty coarse...
 the coarser you get it the easier it is to hide in the dish...
 once your noodles have cooked for about 10 minutes or so, pull them out and drain them.  I like my noodles to be a tad under cooked because they will be going in the oven and cooking some more.  I also like them to be able to hold up to the rolling that's going to be happening as well.
 Once the noodles are in the colander, I also drizzle just a bit of olive oil over them and toss them around a bit in the oil so that they don't stick to each other and break apart...
 chop up 1-2 onions, depending on how "onion-y" your family is- I like lots of onions but my family "thinks" they don't, so I chop them up pretty small and again, my family has no idea ;)
 throw your onions in a saute pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil and saute on medium heat...
 add in 2-3 cloves of garlic or about a tablespoon of the garlic you see above
 saute them together in the olive oil on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes
 get your spices ready to go- one spice not shown here that I also added in is garlic salt
 add your 2 lbs of hamburger into the onions and garlic mixture and then add your garlic powder, garlic salt and oregano.  Saute until the hamburger is cooked, but not too cooked because it will be going in the oven
 Once the hamburger is almost done, add in your spinach
 while the hamburger and spinach is finishing up on the stove, prep your lasagna noodles and lay them out so they're ready to go...you'll notice I have lots o noodles, this is because generally when I cook, I cook big- I live by the cook big or go home principal.  My friend Jen is in the process of moving and I wanted to make dinner for her family too- this is a very easy dish to make for large amounts of people- this recipe will allow for 2 (or even more) 9 x 13 pans of the rollotini (you can also 1/2 this recipe and make enough for only one dish)
 To prepare the cheese mixture, beat 2 eggs and then add 15 ounces of ricotta cheese- if you like ricotta cheese you can add the full 30 ounces- it's up to you- this dish is very easy like that- you can change up almost any of the ingredients and add more or less of each ingredient depending on how much your family likes certain things- like less meat or more cheese etc. etc.
 this is what the beaten eggs and ricotta cheese mixture look like
 Then you will add the mozzarella and Parmesan...(the provolone will come later)
 my sous chef likes to mix each ingredient before I do...she is always right next to me when I'm in the kitchen
 once I added the mozzarella and Parmesan this is what the mixture looked like
 I then added the meat mixture to the cheese mixture
 get your marinara ready...you can either use 1 jar per pan of rollotini or use your own homemade sauce.  Let's be honest, I'm doing good just to get dinner on the table, there will be no home made pasta sauce for my family right now ;)
 OK, now time for the rolling...spoon some of the meat/cheese mixture onto the lasagna noodle, but leave about 2 inches empty at the bottom
 this is what each one should look like
Pour about 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the dish then place the rollotinis in the dish... you can generally fit about 8 in each dish
 then cover with the remaining pasta sauce over the top
 finally, cover with remaining mozzarella.  Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.  I like to bake mine uncovered because I like the edges of my pasta to be a little bit crunchy- I now, I'm weird like that- you might want to cover yours with foil if you like it a little more moist and mushy- your call.
Garnish with parsley and wa-la!!  Dinner is served!
*You can freeze this or prepare up to 1 day ahead of time and then cook it when you're ready- this is a great dish to bring to a family who just moved, had a baby etc ;)

Here's the recipe:

Meaty Rollotini

(This is for 2 pans, you can half everything if you prefer)

2 lbs ground beef (or chopped chicken)
1-2 medium onions
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons garlic salt
3 tablespoons oregano
2 eggs
15-30 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
5 cups mozzarella cheese (3.5 cups into mixture, 1.5 cups for top of rollotinis)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 jars Ragu marinara sauce, any kind
Parsley for garnish

Cook lasagna noodles for about 10 minutes making sure they aren't too well done.  Saute onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, add ground beef, cook until brown but not well done.  Add spinach and spices, saute until spinach is tender.  Let meat mixture sit for 5 minutes.  Beat eggs, combine with ricotta, then add in remaining cheeses leaving 1.5 cups of mozzarella out for top.  Combine meat and cheese mixtures.  Spoon mixture into lasagna noodles.  Roll up and place in pan.  Cook at 350 for 30-40 minutes, covered or uncovered depending on your preference ;)  Enjoy!

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