Let me preface this entire post with saying that I have never liked mushrooms. My husband, he is a big fan, me not so much. That said, I have learned to like (a little) cremini mushrooms, which are what grow up to be portobellos anyway, so I used the package of cremini's I had in the fridge. I ended up with a little less mushroom than the recipe calls for, but I was proud of myself for not throwing some hamburger into the mix anyway. Granted, next time I make this, odds are good I will do a hamburger version, but at least I gave it a try.
This was pretty easy and fun to make and looked really pretty. Not surprisingly, the husband liked it more than me, but I still thought it was really good. I just still wanted more cheese/sauce and probably some meat. Since it made more than my husband and I could eat, I chose to deliver dinner to my lovely neighbors across the street who are always kind enough to let Aidan go and play (and play and play) at their house with their little boy. Aidan just loves it and it gives me a nice break! So, since Aidan was there playing again we took them a pan of the lasagna rollups and some focaccia.
While I am pretty obsessive about my baking being from scratch, I do take some shortcuts with cooking. Probably one of the main examples of this for me is pasta sauce. I know I could make my own, but the fact of the matter is that, other than at my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake to get spaghetti at, I haven't been able to make a version that either tastes better, or costs me less money, than just using the bottled stuff. I am, however, very particular about what I like. There is actually only one brand of the store-bought stuff that I have ever liked, and that is Prego. I have tried several other brands, but I just don't like the flavor or texture.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, because recently I received an email from some nice folks that work with Prego that offered to send me some samples of some of their products. So, of course I said yes! Aside from that lovely garlic and parsley blend they sent me (which I am now hooked on and can't wait to see what other varieties they have) they sent me a jar of their Fresh Mushroom Italian Sauce (and a couple of other items that I will be using soon). I decided that this week's Craving Ellie in My Belly pick would be the perfect time to use that jar of sauce, since even Ellie suggests in the recipe that you can use her sauce or store bought.
For me, it is one of those things where, since I haven't gotten results that are better than the affordability and quality, not to mention the ease, of cracking open that bottle, the choice was a no brainer for me. Maybe someday, when I have time, patience and money/room to grow the garden I want, that will change. In the meantime, I am glad that I have options! The reason I didn't just make Ellie's recipe for the Easy Tomato Sauce (which you can find here) is because I really don't like chunky sauce - at all. So, while the Prego sauces have chunky options, the sauces I buy have some chunks, but not a ton, which is perfect for us.
I included some tips in my adapted version of the recipe below to tell you how I easily and cleanly like to make lasagna - it has to do with spreading the ricotta mixture, which is always the biggest mess and pain in my humble opinion. Don't forget to check out the new Craving Ellie in My Belly blog to see how the others did with their lasagna rolling experiences!
Baby Portobello Lasagna Rollups
Adapted from Ellie Krieger via Food Network and The Foods You Crave
12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 3/4 pound) (I used organic, regular since I couldn't find whole-wheat)
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped (I used about 8 oz of cremini mushrooms instead, which are just baby portobellos)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used gray sea salt)
4 cups of marinara sauce
1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg (I only use freshly ground nutmeg - it is worth it)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 ounces grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 2/3 cup)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook the noodles al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain them well and spread them out onto aluminum foil or waxed paper to prevent them from sticking.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. In a medium bowl combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, a few turns of pepper, and nutmeg.
Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto a lasagna noodle (I dump the mixture into a zip-top bag and snip off a corner, then pipe the desired amount easily and cleanly on top of each noodle, then just spread a bit with the back of a spoon). Top with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture, roll the noodle and place it into the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Spread the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top with grated cheeses, cover loosely with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.
Yield: 6 servings
Blitz Bread - Easy Focaccia
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Website via Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 teaspoons granulated garlic with parsley, optional
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional
Tuscan Herb Mill Blend, optional
Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom. Combine all of the ingredients (except the shredded cheese and herb blend if using) and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds (add the cheese at this point until mixed in, if using).
Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan and stretch to the edges as best you can. Cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it is puffy. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with the herb blend, if desired.
Bake the bread till it's golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.