Hand-Rolled Lasagna

About a year or so after my father sold his restaurant and retired, I decided to get back in the restaurant business part-time, mostly to earn some extra money. I got a job waiting tables at a restaurant called Biscotti in Ridgefield, CT where the chef, Silvia Bianco was doing some amazing things in the kitchen. One dish I remember fondly was her individual hand-rolled lasagnas, I always thought they were a great idea. Each night she would have a special one with different fillings. Biscotti is no longer around, but I was able to contact Chef Silvia and she graciously agreed to contribute a hand-rolled lasagna recipe.Chef Silvia began conducting cooking classes in her restaurant kitchen in 1995. Today, she offers them in her home-based demonstration kitchen to private groups and some of America’s top corporations, including: GE, Unilever, MetLife, Nestle, Pepperidge Farm, The Gap, and many, many more. She is the author of Simply Sauté, the first in-depth book on sauté in the US; has cooked on stage at the Ridgefield Playhouse and at the James Beard House as well as the Today Show; and is among the panel of top culinary experts selected by The Atlantic Monthly to contribute critical evaluations and reviews.

Chef Silvia continues to grow a strong on-line presence through her web site: www.chefsilvia.com; her monthly essays on food and life, “Notes From the Chef” which can be found on her site and includes recipes and tips. She can also be found on the critically acclaimed on-line food resource: www.food411.com where she is resident chef and answers visitor questions though their “Ask Chef Silvia” feature.

Note: For a light meal use one piece of the lasagna per serving and combine with a fresh salad.

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Hand-Rolled Lasagna

Hand-Rolled Lasagna with Ricotta/béchamel, Asparagus and Roasted Red Peppers


  • Author: Chef Silvia
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2-4 1x

Description

Hand rolling each lasagna noodle is a wonderful way to not only make this classic comfort food look fancy, but it allows you to customize each piece–if you want to–without having to make a full tray of the flat, layered type. So, if someone doesn’t care for peppers, for example, you can easily leave them out. It’s also a perfect solution if you want to make lasagna for just a few. The ricotta-béchamel filling, gives each piece a creaminess that is more interesting and lighter than using ricotta alone. I especially like completing the filling with fresh mozzarella, asparagus and roasted red peppers–but any combination of your favorites are fine. Top it with sautéed grape tomatoes and this lasagna is elevated to that of the sublime. I made a variation of this dish when I cooked at the James Beard House. It was a big hit!


Ingredients

Scale

For The Ricotta/Béchamel Filling

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For The Lasagna

  • 4 lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup filling (see below)
  • 4 1/4 inch slices fresh mozzarella
  • 12 pieces fresh asparagus–blanched, ends cut
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper filets (buy prepared or better yet, roast your own)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 large fresh basil leaves–slivered
  • 2 sprigs of whole basil leaves–for garnish

Instructions

Make The Ricotta/Béchamel Filling

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and stir with a wire whisk until it forms a paste. Slowly add the milk, stirring until the mixture forms a paste and all the milk is absorbed. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes–stirring occasionally–until the sauce is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the ricotta, the parmesan, stir and season.

Assemble the Lasagna

  1. Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes, and drain while the noodles are still firm. Rinse the noodles under cold water to stop further cooking (remember, they will cook more in the oven.) Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Lay each noodle flat. Divide the filling evenly in the center of each noodle. Top each with a slice of the mozzarella, 3 pieces of asparagus, and a few filets of the peppers.
  3. Fold one end of the noodle over the filling and then roll. Place each piece in a greased baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the center is warm. While the lasagna is baking, make the sauce.
  4. Remove the lasagna from the oven and place two pieces on each plate, as in the photo. Top with the sauce. Garnish with slivered basil and serve.


21 Responses

  1. This looks wonderful– I’m wondering, do you think the lasagna could be prepped and rolled with the filling the day before it’s baked?

  2. Nuala, I think it would be ok to prep the lasagna the day before. Since you don’t put the sauce on these until after they are baked you don’t have to worry about the noodles soaking up the sauce and getting mushy in the fridge.

  3. Nuala, Phil is right, you can prep it ahead of time…even freeze it (without the sauce.) In fact this is a perfect make ahead dish, especially for large parties. Plan on one roll per person if it’s part of a mult-course meal; two if it’s the main event. It heats up wonderfully in the oven…just make sure to bake it covered so that the top doesn’t dry up and just until the inside is warm and the filling just begins to ooze out. This dish is one of my personal favorites.

    One more thing…add a spoonful or two of marinara sauce (if you have some around) to the sauteed fresh tomatoes. It mixes in with the olive oil and creates a richer, slightly thicker sauce. Ummmm

  4. Thanks for the responses! I’ll be making this on Friday to take to a cabin to serve to friends on Saturday. Can’t wait– it looks amazing!

  5. These sound wonderful and perfect for a small gathering especially like you said if someone is allergic to an ingredient or prefers not to have certain foods. Plus it looks heavenly. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to check out her site.

  6. If we were serving this as the main dish, what should we serve on the side to make it a substantial quantity — growing boys are the dinner guests, and they tend to gobble everything up!

  7. Just visited an amazing Tuscan restaurant in Positano last week and a variation of this dish was served with the rolled pasta, roasted pumpkin, basil, olive oil and cheese. It was to-die-for delicious.

  8. my neighbor and i tried this lasagna dish last night and fed to our families. everyone absolutely loved it. if you like a light pasta dish this is the one to try, really, you’ll savour it. the tomato sauce is really heavenly.

  9. To me looks more like a Canneloni than a Lasagna.
    We serve in our restaurent both, the Lasagna and the Canneloni and it`s true,you can fill the Canneloni with anything taht you want.

  10. This is too funny. I was just telling my wife I was going to make lasagna tonight and was bragging about
    the best lasagna I ever had, which was made at a place that had such good food, I decided to get a job there. It was in no time that Chef Silvia got me rolling the Lasagna at that small Italian spot on Big Shop Lane. I’ve always prepared my lasagna this way (because it is so much better), but since I hadn’t done it in a couple of years, I decided to go on line just to confirm a couple of things. I clicked your link, and was so excited to read your 1st two sentences!!!
    While I long for the days of having a great Italian dinner at Biscotti’s, I am glad Silvia is still finding ways to feed people, and her “disciples” are doing the same. Thanx for sharing!

  11. I was so pleased to come across the Italian chef site…recipes are quite authentic and following procedure directions..fine.Since I have only an IPad I can only save recipes if Italian chef has a personal recipe box as I have on other sites..Taste of Home,etc.I can not print it either,so what do you suggest? Buon appetito sempre.Janet

    1. Janet, so glad you like the site. If you click the “Yum” button (the orange one), it will allow you to save the recipe in a personal recipe box at Yummly.com. You can save recipes from other sites there too. I hope that helps.

  12. This is a great idea. Living alone making a whole lasagna means I may eat it for a long time. this solves that problem.

  13. Truly terrific!!!
    My first attempt at one of your recipe’s. Looking forward to trying other’s!!!

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