It’s about time for another Dinner For Two recipe, right? I’ve been making a lot of meals for two lately, because I made a change in the way I approach dinner. I used to spend about $100 a week on groceries— for just the two of us! Isn’t that ridiculous? My theory was: buy whatever looks great, and keep a fully stocked pantry so I can pull together any type of meal at a moment’s notice. This system is incredibly wasteful. When I found out we were moving to Kansas, I stopped grocery shopping…and for 6 weeks, I didn’t need a thing from the store (except milk and eggs). And what’s more, on my last week in California, I was giving away bags of unopened groceries. This means that I had over 6 weeks’ worth of food stored up in the pantry. Sure, I could fulfill a craving for pasta with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, herbed bread crumbs, and goat cheese at a moment’s notice (one of my favorite single-girl meals). And yes, I could bake a 3-layer cake without needing a single ingredient from the store. But, is it really necessary?
So, I started meal planning. I know thousands of you do it, yet I was too stubborn to try it. A few weeks ago, I did a quick inventory of the pantry before making my weekly grocery run. I spent $40 less than usual, and now I’m hooked!
This system has an unexpected perk: I never knew how relaxing it could be to come home and know exactly what I’m cooking for dinner. I never realized that moment at 5:00 when I had to come up with something for dinner was stressful. Now, I come home from work, do a quick chore (laundry, vacuuming, etc.), pop a bottle of wine and set about making dinner peacefully. I feel like my time after work is much longer and more enjoyable. Life is great!
Shall we talk about lasagna now? Ok, this recipe is for individual lasagna roll-ups. You take the filling that normally goes between the layers of pasta in a traditional lasagna and spread it on one noodle instead.
I promise you (I’m looking at you in the eye here) that the filling does not fall out when you roll it up. The gooey ricotta and mozzarella adhere readily to the sticky al dente noodle. Spread out the filling on 6 partially cooked lasagna noodles, roll them up, top with sauce, cheese and bake. We eat two roll-ups for dinner with a salad, or 3 roll-ups on their own. It’s up to you.
- 1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1 tablespoon butter
- —you may substitute 2 cups of your favorite store-bought sauce instead—
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 wavy lasagna noodles (not the no-cook kind)
- 8 oz. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, grated
- 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- If you’re making the sauce from scratch, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a medium-sized baking dish with the olive oil.
- Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water until al dente, about 1 minute under the time recommended on your box. Remove from the water, lay them out between pieces of paper towel and keep covered.
- Next, take the defrosted spinach (it really must be defrosted!) and squeeze out the excess liquid in your hands. Give it a few good squeezes–it should appear mostly dry when you’re done.
- Next, in a small bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, egg, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Take 1 lasagna noodle at a time, spread ⅙th of the cheese mixture on it evenly (see photo), top with the grated mozzarella. Roll up the noodle away from you, starting at the short end. Place it seam-side down in the greased baking dish. Repeat for the remaining 5 noodles.
- Pour the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle on any remaining mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese over each roll-up.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve.