These are kind of weird, but they taste really good and they’re pretty quick and easy to make. This concoction actually calls for two types of tomato sauce, both of which are covered in this post. The recipe for the creamy tomato sauce makes a ton of it. I think you could halve it and still have enough for this recipe. I had a ton left over, so I froze it until next needed.
Not sure what more to say about these, other than, to me, they’re better than lasagna.
There’s a lot of writing below, but don’t let it fool you. These can be prepped and assembled pretty quickly.
What you’ll need for the rolls:
- 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
- 1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
- A splash of red wine
- Whatever Italian spices you like, fresh or dried
- *1 package no-bake lasagna noodles
- Shredded mozzarella or Asiago cheese
*We had some traditional-style lasagna noodles (see photos), after rolling a couple, I felt they were too narrow and frustrating to deal with.
**What you’ll need for the topping sauce:
- 2T olive oil or butter
- 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 15-oz cans tomato sauce (unseasoned or seasoned)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 0.5 cups finely shredded Parmesan (for the love of god, do not use the kind you shake out of a green cardboard can!)
- Salt and pepper, as needed
**This is an awesome sauce that you can use for a ton of different pasta dishes—including this one. Just add meat, sautéed mushrooms and your favorite pasta.
What to do for the lasagna rolls:
Fully cook the Italian sausage in a fry pan over medium heat, breaking it up into the smallest pieces you can. When done, drain off the oil and set the sausage aside to cool.
Slowly begin bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil for the lasagna pieces.
While the meat is cooling, it’s time to make the roll sauce. Add the can of crushed tomatoes to a small fry pan over low-medium heat. With the back of the spoon, smash and crush the tomatoes like you want to do to that one jackass at work.
When the crushed tomatoes are even more crushed, add the can of tomato paste. If the sauce—it should resemble a sauce now—hasn’t begun to simmer, turn up the heat a bit until it does.
While the sauce is gently simmering, add a splash or two of red wine, and a ton of Italian spices. Let it continue to simmer until the meat has cooled and the sauce is really thick—it shouldn’t take too long to really thicken.
Remove the sauce from the heat and add the meat, mixing it in well. Let it cool while you begin making the topping sauce.
What to do for the topping sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced onion and sauté until it just begins to brown. Make sure at least one of your tomato sauce cans is open.
Add the garlic and sauté it for a minute or so, then quickly add the tomato sauce so the garlic doesn’t burn. If the garlic begins to burn, just dump it out and start again with fresh oil and onion. Burnt garlic will completely ruin the dish—there’s no covering up the burnt flavor.
When both cans of tomato sauce are in the pan, add the cream, then mix well. You could add some salt and pepper at this point, too. The amount is completely discretionary; there’s no magic amount.
Let the sauce rise to a gentle simmer and hold that for a few minutes. Add the Parmesan and mix well. Set aside and let cool while you assemble the rolls.
What to do to assemble the rolls:
At this point, your salted pasta water should be boiling. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Add two pieces of lasagna to the water and let them boil until they are pliable enough to roll. The amount of time will vary, depending on the brand of lasagna. While the pasta is cooking lay out a clean towel or paper towel on your workspace.
When the lasagna is pliable, gently remove it with tongs and lay it on the towel. Immediately add two more pieces of pasta to the water, then blot the top of the cooked pasta dry.
Spoon some of the sauce-meat mixture to the near end of the lasagna and top it with a big pinch of cheese (see photo). Gently roll up the lasagna, being careful that the guts don’t come out the sides. When it’s rolled, stick a toothpick in it to keep it coiled. Add to a greased baking dish.
Repeat this process until you’re out of either the sauce-meat or pasta.
Next, spoon the other tomato sauce over the rolls. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 -30 minutes. By then, the cheese should be melted, the pasta cooked, and the rolls heated through. If you want a little crispiness to the pasta, cook for 10 or so minutes more, uncovered.