Sausage and Spinach Lasagna Rolls with a Pesto Tomato Sauce

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WOW that title is a mouthful, at least it is a tasty one! My husband raved over these little lasagna rolls. In fact, he said if I ever openned a restaurant I would HAVE to have these on the menu. What a great compliment for a dinner I threw together with stuff in the fridge.

Those of you who know me and/or have been following my posts know that I LOVE pesto. I could honestly just eat it right off the spoon (and have). Yum! I hope to someday have a Cuisinart food processor where I can make all sorts of great pestos, right now the jarred-grocery store kind works wonderfully. I had a partially used jar of pesto in the fridge and could not let it go to waste. Pesto was the inspiration for these lasagna rolls. I also had a partial jar of marinara sauce and a couple handfuls of baby spinach in the fridge that needed to be used. A little spicy Italian sausage in the freezer and I had the workings for a tasty sounding lasagna.

Let me just say that adding pesto to your jarred tomato sauce really freshens it up. The garlic and basil really complement the tomatoey flavor of a marinara. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Sausage and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

1 lb spicy Italian sausage (casings removed)
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
3 c mozzarella cheese
1 10 oz jar Pesto
1 28 oz jar Marinara sauce
couple handfuls Baby Spinach
1 package “boil” Lasagna noodles
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Fill large pot with water, bring to boil. Salt water and add lasagna noodles, cook to package directions. Drain (reserving 1 c liquid), and rinse in cool water. Separate noodles on counter or cookie sheet, so they don’t stick together. Heat skillet over medium heat and brown sausage, breaking up large chunks, drain. Grease 9 x 9 baking dish.

Mix together pesto and marinara. Add 1/2 c sauce to bottom of baking dish. Mix ricotta, Parmesan, 1 c mozzarella, spinach, and reserved noodle liquid.

Assemble rolls:

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Spread ricotta mixture on lasagna noodle.

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Top with some browned sausage. Roll.

Place seam-side down in pan. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Top with remaining sauce mixture and mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil, bake 35-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-10 minutes or until cheese browns.  ENJOY!

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An Iowa Dinner

I love summer in Iowa because we have Farmer’s Markets that are full of fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, local meats and eggs, beautiful flowers and various homemade sewn goods. On Saturday morning I headed with the girls to our Farmer’s Market. Each week there are more and more vegetables and fruits to choose from.  My favorite Farmer’s Market finds are tomatoes and sweet corn.  BLTs and sweet corn were a staple of my childhood meals.

Our dinner was a delicious BLT (I switched the lettuce for some local sprouts), sweet corn, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and pesto couscous.This is a perfect summer meal! ENJOY!

BLT
2 slices cooked bacon
lettuce (or sprouts)
2 slices tomato
2 slices crusty French bread

Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Lay slices of bacon on cookie sheet, cook for about 10 minutes. Once done lay on paper towels to absorb grease.

*This is the best way to cook crispy bacon!

ASPARAGUS WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO
1 bunch asparagus
5 slices prosciutto

Blanch asparagus. Wrap prosciutto around 6-7 pieces of asparagus. Lightly spray bundles with canola oil. Roast in 425 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes.

Oh the Pesto-bilities!

Open-faced Mediterranean Tuna Rice Cake sandwich. WOW what a mouthful–at least it is a delicious one. I currently have an open jar of Classico -Traditional Basil Pesto sitting in my fridge. I opened it the other night to use some in my Pesto Couscous.

Last night for supper I wanted a high protein, low calorie meal. Immediately I thought of tuna, tuna is a lean protein packed with omega-3 fatty acid (which is great for breastfeeding moms). Alex doesn’t care for tuna; actually he doesn’t like it at all, so I knew this tuna sandwich would be all mine. I was going to make my traditional tuna salad which consists of canned tuna and a little mayonnaise, but when I opened the fridge last night I saw the jar of pesto sitting there staring at me. I’ve never had tuna and pesto together but thought it sounded not too bad. Well I was right, it was better than not too bad, it was frickin’ awesome.

I served my tuna on Quaker White Cheddar Rice Cakes. This makes a nice low calorie snack or meal. I tried to take some pictures of this deliciousness, but the pictures did not do justice to the amazing flavor or this sandwich.

Check out my recipe for Pesto Meatballs if you need any other ideas for integrating pesto into your meals.

OPEN-FACED MEDITERRANEAN TUNA RICE CAKE SANDWICHES
1 can lite chuck tuna packed in water, drained
2 T Classico Basil Pesto
1/2 T lite Mayo
2 Quaker White Cheddar Rice Cakes

Combine tuna, pesto and mayo. Divide between two rice cakes. Eat as an open-faced sandwich. Eat both yourself or share with a friend. Enjoy!

Calories for one open-faced sandwich: 186.5

Pesto Couscous

The weather is finally warming up in Iowa; soon winter will have faded like a bad dream often does. Yesterday we enjoyed ourselves outdoors. I basked in the sun with a book. Warmer weather equals grilled meat. Alex pulled out the charcoal grill and grilled some delicious steaks (bought at the local meat locker). I made couscous to serve as a side. I used a box of Near East Original Plain Couscous. That is exactly what is was… PLAIN. So to shake things up a bit I added four generous tablespoons of Classico Pesto. The results were a delicious couscous with a faint green color and pesto flavor. The couscous cooks up in less than five minutes, and will be the prefect summer side dish . Happy grilling everyone. Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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I was first introduced to this delicious dish through one of my friend Shamous. Growing up my mom never made meatballs to accompany spaghetti; instead she would just add browned burger to the sauce. This was good, but this was all I knew. My spaghetti life changed once I had a meatball. I learned how to make meatballs from him. I asked him for his recipe and it went something like this: hmm, you need bread crumbs (cracker crumbs work) the ones with Italian seasonings are great, eggs, and Parmesan cheese is nice. He didn’t know the amounts, he said he goes by feel and smell. Well thanks Shamous! My first attempt was no where near the tastiness of his, but I have been practicing and I think tonight I came up with a dang good recipe. Leftover pesto was the inspiration for these tasty meatballs.

Pesto Meatballs

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
1/3 c plain bread crumbs
4 T pesto
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add all ingredients to large bowl, mix well with your (clean) hands, add more breadcrumbs if mixture is too wet. Hand roll into golf ball size meatballs. Place into 9X13 in. pan, bake 25 minutes. Makes 20 meatballs.

Add to your favorite sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes. The longer you simmer the better the flavor. Tonight, we enjoyed our meatballs with a linguine and thin spaghetti mixture. It was delicious. However, Schwartz is still meatball king!