Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

For someone who loves to cook and bake, I don't really spend much time watching the Food Network.  In our house, we watch a lot more "Dora the Explorer" and "Blue's Clues" these days.  Still, one of my favorite cooking shows is "Semi-Homemade" with Sandra Lee.  And I have to admit, it's not even about the food.  I just love the way that she changes the entire look of her kitchen for every episode, from valences to dishes to her apron.  The part of me that wants to make crafts is intrigued, but the bigger part that is just lazy doesn't seem to get around to doing that in my own home.

I recently bought a copy of Sandra Lee's newest book, Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook, and have become enthralled with her recipe for Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups.  It got two thumbs-up from my husband, whose comment was, "Can we have this every week?"  It can be mostly done ahead and makes a great meal for busy weeknights.

12 lasagna noodles
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp parsley
24 oz. jar of marinara sauce
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, unless you are making this in the morning to cook at night, in which case this is a bad idea.  Boil a large pot of water and add your lasagna noodles.  I usually throw in 2 or 3 extra noodles because no matter how thoroughly I stir them, one or two seem to stick to the bottom of the pan while they cook and tear when I drain them.  Once the water returns to a boil, set the timer for 8 minutes.  At the end of the cook time, drain the noodles and rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking and to keep the naughty noodles from burning your fingers in a bit.

Now make the filling.  In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, garlic, and parsley.

Take a 9x13" pan and spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom to keep the noodles from sticking later.  Now place a piece of waxed paper on your counter for a work surface (trust me, this next part is messy and you do NOT want to try to use a paper towel for this).  Lay one lasagna noodle on the waxed paper and spread about 3 tbsp of ricotta on it.  Just eyeball it, using roughly 1/12 of everything with each noodle.  Top with about 3 tbsp chicken and 2 tbsp mozzarella.  Again, just guess.

Now roll it up like you were rolling cigars in Cuba.  Some of the filling will try to escape out the sides, but this is okay.  Just poke it back in and keep going.

Put the little rolls into your prepared dish.  It will hold exactly 12 of them.  This rolling stage is somewhat time-consuming, taking me 15-20 minutes to roll 12 of them, so factor it in if the queen is coming to dinner and you don't want her to have to wait.

Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the top of everything and cover the whole thing with foil.  If you are making this in the morning for later that day, just slide it into the fridge now.  If you just can't wait and want to have it right now, bake it for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and sprinkle it with the Parmesan cheese, then bake about 10 minutes more to get a little crispy on top.  Serve it hot (duh).

This recipe has become a staple in our household but would also work as a meal that you bring to a potluck or to someone in need.  It is a quick, easy, and delicious meal for any night of the week.

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