I’m still on my Ellie Krieger kick as I’m still fighting my own Battle of the Bulge. My cravings as of late have been more for carbohydrates, so I opened Ellie’s cookbook to see if I could find something that would satisfy, yet provide a healthier option.
Well, hello there. Come here often?
The downside about this recipe is that it does take a while. Aside from the active time, the tomato sauce takes about 20 minutes to simmer and the overall dish takes another 30 – 45 minutes to bake. What would have made it more efficient for me from a time management perspective is if I hadn’t needed to run to the grocery store before coming home. If you have these ingredients on hand ready to go, then it won’t be an issue. I hadn’t planned ahead, and that was my fault.
Easy Tomato Sauce
From Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained, tomatoes chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Everything on this list I already had in my pantry, but for some reason I had forgotten that I already had an existing can of whole tomatoes. It was the grocery store brand, nothing special, of peeled, whole roma tomatoes. But, like I said, I didn’t remember that and I didn’t have a chance to check my pantry because I was going straight from work. So I picked up a can of Hunt’s whole tomatoes. A 28-ounce can. It’s a big can. Like, a can with lots of space inside for lots of tomatoes.
And have I yet mentioned what a large can the Hunt’s 28-ounce can is?
It’s a big freaking can. Here’s what the Hunt’s website has to say about their whole tomatoes (i.e. incriminating evidence):
Did you notice the part about packing the OH SO MANY TOMATOES in their OWN JUICE?
I opened up the GINORMOUS 28 OUNCE can and drained it. As I’m pouring it out into the sink, I’m looking at what’s coming out and I’m thinking, “Hmm. That doesn’t look like tomato juice to me… it looks like tomato sauce.”
But I keep pouring, and pouring, and still pouring. What the crap? Once I got to the bottom of the can, guess how many tomatoes I was left with?
Three! Three freaking tomatoes out of that entire can! Actually, there weren’t even three – I had two regular sized romas and one very small roma, about half the size of the other two! Two and a half tomatoes out of that entire freaking can, weighed down by a bunch of sauce!
Guess what brand I won’t ever be buying again? That’s right, Hunt’s. Luckily I had that generic brand to fall back on, and (Thanks, Mr. Wegman!) it had a dozen or more roma tomatoes inside, in actual juice.
After that disparity, I was a little concerned about my ingredients, as I wasn’t sure how many tomatoes were expected to be in the sauce. But I bravely forged ahead anyway. What can I say? I was hungry.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Yield: 6 servings
This sauce didn’t have a lot of liquid in it, which was fine — but again, there were no notes in the recipe so I was confused about the instruction that said “simmer”. There wasn’t much to simmer so I just put it on a back burner and kept it on low while I started on the lasagna.
Another thing to note is that I cut this in half since I was only serving two people, and it came out to the exact needed portions. The serving size is a 1/2 cup. That may sound like very little, but this dish isn’t a very saucy dish to begin with, so it really does work out.
Total Fat: 3G
Excellent source of: Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C
Good source of: Fiber
So while that was simmering, I started on the lasagna.
Portobello Lasagna Rollups
Adapted from Ellie Krieger
12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 3/4 pound)
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups Easy Tomato 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
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 ounces grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 2/3 cup)
A couple of notes about the noodles. First of all, I couldn’t find any whole wheat lasagna. I found whole wheat everything else except that, so I just used regular. I also used Barilla brand, since I usually do anyway and also because it’s the preferred brand of America’s Test Kitchen. In my own experience, I’ve found Barilla’s cooking lasagna noodles to be a lot thicker and sturdier than other brands.
Then I had another problem. I didn’t want them ripping apart as soon as I removed them from the hot water, nor did I want them overcooked from the baking process, so I boiled them two minutes less than the recommended al dente time, knowing they would soak up more liquid during the baking process.
And they did. They came out perfect.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook the noodles two minutes less than the al dente time 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.
Chop up the portobellos.
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. (Note: I did not add the salt.)
And here’s where it gets fun. Literally. I had a good time doing this part. If you have kids, they’d probably love doing it, too… as well as smearing it all over, and flinging it, and eating it and painting their siblings and walls with it…
Okay, so maybe involving small children isn’t a good idea, but it was fun for me.
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. Top with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture.
To make sure I was creating equal portions (I wanted consistency) I used an actual tablespoon and, given that I had halved the recipe, I ended up making 7, one more than expected. So I could have either used the extra innards to really thicken up the rolls, but I think it was better this way because, although this doesn’t look like it would stuff you, it did. I could barely get through two of these, and my spouse, who is a bottomless pit, could barely get through three… and the entire loaf of garlic bread.
It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
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 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more.
And here’s the nutrition information (includes the tomato sauce in its calculation):
Serves 6, Serving size: 2 Rolls
Total Fat: 18G
Excellent source of: Calcium, Fiber, Iron, Niacin, Potassium, Protein, Riboflavin, Thiamin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C
Good source of: Copper, Pantothenic Acid, Selenium, Awesomeness
This was a fantastic dish, and I even brought the remaining two rollups for lunch today. I will definitely make this again. As a weeknight cooking dish, the time it takes to make it, as well as the amount of dishes that I used are cons, but as I was wolfing it down all of that went away and I didn’t care anymore. As a regular dish… well, it’s not fine dining, but it looks good on a plate and even those who dislike mushrooms (such as my spouse) didn’t seem to mind as much as usual. It’s also a healthier option for a good looking, great tasting pasta.
Weeknight Cooking: A-
Overall Dish: B+