June 6, 2014

Green Lasagna Rolls

by IsaChandra

Makes 10 rolls
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Active time: 45 minutes

It’s basil season! And spinach season! And, well, let’s just say it’s lasagna roll season, too.

These make a great appetizer if you’re doing a little summer entertaining, or a filling entree if you prefer. Tofu ricotta is elevated with the addition of some Pumpkin Seed Pesto. The mellow flavor of pumpkin seeds really lets the basil shine. The sautéed spinach is really really garlicky, as is the pesto, so this makes the perfect date night meal.

What I really love, besides how flavorful these are, is the texture. Baking the rolls makes the noodles soft but still toothsome, with little crunchy bits on the edges. Smothered in cashew cream and pesto and finished off with a scattering of additional pumpkin seeds, these lasagna rolls will fulfill even the most wild fantasies: creamy, crunchy, velvety, chewy, and hearty all at once. Yes, there are a few components here, but none are too difficult to pull off and also LASAGNA ROLLS.

Serve with Caesar Salad to round out the meal!

PS This is my first blogpost using only iPhone photos, so take a deep breath with me. Sorry $2000 camera, this is just easier. Since I’m not an aspiring photographer, I’m not ashamed to admit that adjusting lighting and apertures and editing in Photoshop is just too labor intensive for me these days. A few adjustments in VSCO cam, a button to upload to Flickr, and my work is done here. You get the picture. Har har.

Recipe Notes

~You don’t need all of the lasagna noodles called for, but go ahead and boil the whole package to account for some breakage. Saute the leftovers and broken ones for dinner the next night.

~The amount of ricotta made is just enough to fill the rolls, so go easy with the taste testing and don’t overfill the rolls, or you might not get ten out of the deal.

~I put the pesto in a little plastic bag with a hole cut out of the corner to pipe it nicely over the rolls. Then just spread it a bit with a spoon and it’s real pretty like.

~I make the white sauce before the pesto to cut down on cleaning a little bit. You can pour the white sauce out and then just rinse the blender without having to do a major cleaning, since who cares if a little bit of cashew cream ends up in your pesto.

12 oz lasagna noodles

For the white sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pesto:
2 cloves garlic
3 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), plus extra for garnish
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper

For the ricotta:
1 14 oz extra firm tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup pesto
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the spinach:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz baby spinach

Make the noodles:
Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and cook the noodles al dente, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick together. If they seem to be, use metal tongs to gently peel them apart. Once cooked, drain them in a colander and run them under plenty of cold water to make sure they stop cooking and don’t stick together.

Make the white sauce:
Drain cashews. In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until completely smooth. This could take 1 to 5 minutes depending on your blender. Scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula every minute or so to make sure you get everything. Set aside.

Make the pesto:
Place garlic cloves in a blender and pulse a bit to chop. Add basil, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice salt and pepper and blend. It should still have some texure and not be completely smooth. Thin with a few tablespoons of water to get it into a spreadable consistency.

Make the ricotta:
In a medium mixing bowl, mash tofu with your hands or an avocado masher, until it resembles ricotta cheese. Mix in pesto, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice and salt until well combined. Set aside.

Make the spinach:
Preheat a large heavy bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium low heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Assemble and bake:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with olive oil.

Spread 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each lasagna noodle, leaving a little room around the side edges and 1/2 inch at each end.

Scatter about 3 tablespoons of spinach mixture over the ricotta. Starting at the bottom end, roll noodle up and place, seam side down, in the casserole dish. Continue with all remaining noodles. Pour the white sauce over the rolls in thick ribbons.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and white sauce is thickened. If after 25 minutes the rolls are not browning but the edges are crispy, place under a broiler on low heat for a minute or two, keeping a very close eye so that they don’t burn.

Remove from oven and smother on remaining pesto. Garnish with additional pumpkin seeds and serve!

  • June 6, 2014 at 2:11 am: Kate

    The iPhone photos look great! Sorry the lasagna rolls ruined your day, but they seem perfect for a weekend dinner, where I’m sure they’ll make mine.

  • June 6, 2014 at 2:12 am: Xin

    These look amaaaazing! I’m sorry they ruined your day, but new food porn from you always makes mine. Thanks! <3

  • June 6, 2014 at 2:30 am: Pam Kohll

    Isa! we met at whole foods in Omaha! Im from boulder… now living in NYC…will make this, looks so good, on gluten free noodles. keep these yummy recipes coming! XO

  • June 6, 2014 at 2:50 am: Desirae

    Can’t wait to make these. Going to be my husbands Father’s Day dinner treat. Thanks Isa!

  • June 6, 2014 at 3:50 am: FoodFeud

    YOU ARE A BUSY LADY don’t worry about those photos – these look nicer than the ones I take with my camera. Also I would eat this.

  • June 6, 2014 at 4:34 am: Dana S

    These look super delicious and I can’t wait to make them! The person who I’m going to feed these to has a nut allergy. What’s a good sub for the cashews? Thanks!! (so excited about putting these in my face)

  • June 6, 2014 at 6:33 am: Danielle

    Dana, perhaps you could try making a vegan bechamel sauce to replace the cashew-based sauce. This recipe looks interesting and is nut-free if you substitute the almond milk with soy milk: http://www.veganricha.com/2013/03/lasagna-bechamel-with-sweet-potato-and.html

    I can’t wait to try this recipe, it looks delicious! Unfortunately it’s winter here so it may be a little more difficult for me to procure basil but I’m quite determined. :-)

  • June 6, 2014 at 6:47 am: Sarojini

    These looks amazing- what a great idea; I would prefer making these to regular lasagne. Good to see you are still posting recipes here despite the new restaurant- and those pictures are fine- beter than I would take with any camera :)

  • June 6, 2014 at 9:09 am: Anek

    Oh my that looks awesome! I will make it with rucola pesto instead of basil, I have an overabundance of rucola in the garden.

  • June 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm: Kaysha Comfort

    This looks so amazingly delicious and healthy! Thank you for sharing!

  • June 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm: Allison N.

    love u

    • June 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm: IsaChandra

      love u sis.

  • June 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm: Alli

    How much pesto goes into the ricotta? Thanks!

    • June 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm: IsaChandra

      1/4 cup, it’s right there in the recipe!

  • June 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm: KateT

    I don’t do soy, and feel like I miss out on so many of these lovely “tofu-cheese” recipes. Any recommendations? More cashew cream? Or almonds?

  • June 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm: Maaike

    If you serve it as an entree (with a ceasar salad on the side), will 10 rolls be enough to feed 4 hungry vegans?

  • June 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm: Hollie

    GIRL. You the best.

  • June 7, 2014 at 1:25 am: Kris

    What a gorgeous dish (great photos, btw)! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • June 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm: Eileen

    These rolls sound so delicious! I heart cashew cheese, but I haven’t done nearly enough with cashew creams or sauces (like, as in, none ever), so I’m excited to try this out.

  • June 8, 2014 at 1:47 am: caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    what a gorgeous dish!

  • June 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm: Jojo

    These look awesome Isa, I want to make the pesto and slather it on everything!

    • June 9, 2014 at 12:16 am: IsaChandra

      Do it, girl!

  • June 9, 2014 at 12:53 am: Jason K

    Made these tonight and they were DELICIOUS! Thanks Isa!

  • June 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm: Heidi

    I made this yesterday and it was AWESOME. It made me cry tears of joy that someone out there understands me and the food I like to eat. The pesto recipe will be my go-to pesto recipe from now on. All the pieces came together quickly for me with a Vitamix while I was boiling the noodles. I LOVE YOU.

  • June 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm: Heather Hicks

    I just love that I never have to look anywhere beyond your website/books for my weekly meal plans (and I know it will turn out DELISH because it always does!)

  • June 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm: Corrin Radd

    Made this for diner today. yummy.

  • June 11, 2014 at 3:56 am: Sandi

    Pics are great! What’s a VSCO cam?

    • June 11, 2014 at 4:32 am: IsaChandra

      It’s an editing ap!

  • June 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm: Kellie

    Once baked, could these be frozen? Looks great and can’t wait to try it.

  • June 11, 2014 at 7:32 pm: Lisa

    This looks so delicious and do not worry about the pics they are great. Will have to try this. Thanks!

  • June 11, 2014 at 7:39 pm: Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking

    Oh my goodness this looks so delicious! I am excited to try these rolls this week and am so glad to have discovered your blog!!

  • June 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm: Keren (Just One More Spoon)

    Wow! This looks delicious! A bit of an effort but I think it’d be an impressive main dish. Can’t wait to try make this!

  • June 14, 2014 at 11:53 am: Clara

    I tried it out last week and I was really disappointed. I followed the recipe step by step but the result was not convincing in taste or texture. Just look at the filling… 10 oz of spinach and 14 oz of tofu, and not a single grain of salt, or a drop of soy sauce, or anything similar to create some taste. I followed the recipe and didn’t add any salt, although I already had a bad feeling about this, but my trust in the recipe prevailed and I hoped it would turn out well in the end.
    But… I ditched more than half the lasagna, because I just couldn’t convince myself to eat this. What a waste of beautiful ingredients. :(

    • July 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm: IsaChandra

      There is salt in every element of the recipe so…well, that’s all.

  • June 15, 2014 at 1:25 am: Katie Fucito

    I made these for dinner tonight and they were fantastic! I don’t get why the previous comment said there was no salt in the recipe? Because there is…?

  • June 16, 2014 at 9:40 am: claire

    made them last night and they were absolutely fantastic! I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so used pine seeds instead. I don’t really understand one of the last comments regarding the missing salt…

  • June 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm: Emily

    I made this last night and am so happy I did. Very tasty! My noodles stuck together in the boil, so the rolls weren’t nearly as neat and pretty, but it was delicious all the same. Thanks Isa

  • June 17, 2014 at 4:03 am: Sharon

    I made these on the weekend and they were absolutely fantastic! I added some chopped kalamata olives to the tofu-cotta, and it was delish. Thank you thank you thank you Isa!

  • June 17, 2014 at 10:32 am: Kate S.

    I made these last weekend and they were just as good as they look! There is a bit of prep involved for each separate element, but like any lasagna, once you start putting the pieces together, it’s ready in a flash! I put them together in the morning and then stuck the pan in the refrigerator and pulled it out an hour before baking. I also baked the pesto stripes and the pepitas for about 10 minutes at the end rather than putting them on cool. Delicious!!!

  • June 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm: Bonnie

    These are fantastic! Made these Sunday and automatically in the new rotation for us. Can you say “leftover heaven”? Isa you are a genius

  • June 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm: Jennifer N

    This is a new favorite and will now be a regularly occurring meal! Extremely happy with the results and it was actually quite fun to make!

  • June 20, 2014 at 12:34 am: Natalie

    I love this recipe! It crubs my craving for cheesy delicious italian food.

  • June 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm: Rosanna

    These were amazing!!! I actually made them into a lasagna as I had so much pasta which came out perfectly and unbroken and I wanted to use it all so I layered the pasta, pesto, spinach and cheesy white sauce twice over and then topped with the white sauce.
    I served with a spicy arrabiata. It was a HUGE hot with my hubby!!!!

  • June 20, 2014 at 8:26 pm: trueffelsau

    I made it and it was just great, or like we say in Germany “der Hammer” :-)
    Just creamy, tasty and filling!

  • June 22, 2014 at 2:17 am: Michelle

    I made this the other night as a small lasagna (after two failed attempts with boiling the noodles and keeping them in one piece), and it was delicious. The pesto really makes the dish, and the pepitas added a nice crunch. ( I did add a little cashew cream in between each layer.) My non-veg eight year old loved it–this is going into rotation. Thank you!

  • June 23, 2014 at 6:42 pm: HappyForks

    Wow. This dish shows us that we can replace every meal by vegan’s version. Great alternative for classic lasagna.

  • June 24, 2014 at 12:00 am: Randi (laughfrodisiac)

    I made the 3 components but used it for polenta lasagna. Omg, best pesto, ricotta, and cashew cream ever. Can’t wait to make it as intended, and every other way possible. New fave!

  • June 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm: Kate

    Oh my. Made these for dinner last night and they are heaven in a baking dish. The only thing I added was to caramelize some onions with the spinach, just because I love onions, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. So so yummy. Isa and the PPK are for realz. Thanks for another great one. Please never stop creating recipes.

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  • June 26, 2014 at 6:25 am: Geneva

    Isa, It Looks Great & I love your recipes. Also I’ve prepared my own blog but not gone live yet one reason is that I thought I needed a professional camera but I’ve learnt make the best of what you”ve got, this has INSPIRED me.

  • June 27, 2014 at 1:01 am: Jessica

    I made these exactly as the recipe says! They are perfect and so delicious. Even better the next day! Thank you Isa!!

  • June 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm: Laura

    I made this recipe last night for my husband and myself – and my husband is a die-hard carnivore and does not like tofu. He absolutely LOVED it! He just asked if he could take the leftovers for lunch at work tomorrow! This was so flavorful and yummy! It will definitely be on heavy rotation in our house! Thanks!

  • June 30, 2014 at 11:20 am: evab

    I’m wondering why don’t you use canneloni pasta? Rolling up lasagne noodles sounds a little messy…

  • June 30, 2014 at 9:55 pm: Julie

    I made these yesterday with great results! Pesto is the besto! I used whole wheat lasagna noodles, however, because that’s how I “roll”. Delicious!

  • July 1, 2014 at 3:02 am: Sam

    Oh maaan I made these yesterday and I’ve just had the last bite of leftovers – so, so, so good. I couldn’t be bothered with cashews, so I substituted a standard bechamel sauce (earth balance, flour, soy milk) instead, did the job. I LOVE the basil pesto, will definitely make that more often. *garlic burps*

  • July 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm: Kristin

    These are delicious! And perfect for the basil coming in from our CSA farm share. I actually blend the spinach right into the ricotta mixture to avoid texture issues with my daughter and, admittedly, me!

  • July 8, 2014 at 2:53 am: Rachel

    Good grief and a half, I just made this for dinner and it is absolutely phenomenal. I cannot believe there isn’t cheese in there somewhere! It tastes just like decadent cheese-laden lasagna. Also subbed brown rice noodles with no issue whatsoever. Thank you for such a delicious recipe!

  • July 9, 2014 at 1:49 am: Lindsay

    yum, this dish look so good!

  • July 9, 2014 at 10:13 am: http://conitphutthoi.com/

    What’s up colleagues, pleasant paragraph and nice arguments commnted here, I am actually enjoying by these.

  • July 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm: shauna

    these are excellent! and so pretty!

  • July 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm: jaime

    Hey Isa,
    can I prep all the fillings the day before say Sunday, roll em up on Monday to bake?

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  • July 13, 2014 at 2:54 am: Michelle

    I love anything with pesto so will definitely have to give this a try. And your photos look fabulous :) (I tend to use my tablet now more than my expensive camera as it also is easier and takes great photos without all the messing around with the settings :)

  • July 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm: Helen

    Hi Isa,
    By 1 14oz, you mean 14oz and not 1lb 14oz… I hope?

  • July 15, 2014 at 2:22 am: Courtney

    My husband and I recently switched to being vegan in hopes to cure some health problems that I was having. He had a hard time sticking to it because he felt restricted, and I could not find support for our new lifestyle (although the stores were filled with Gluten Free books!). I was nervous about this recipe because I could not imagine tofu as Ricotta, but OH MY WORD!!!! This has totally changed my mind about tofu, and his about being Vegan in general!
    The flavors are incredibly rich and the pesto and cashew sauce are to die for. If we could have this every day, we would!
    LOOOOOOOVE it!!!
    Thank you- truly.

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  • July 16, 2014 at 4:52 pm: Joleanna Ann

    Dana: I am allergic to cashews also and substitute blanched almonds (almonds without the skin; you can use with the skin but it will effect the color of your dish) I soak and blend them just like cashews in all of Isa’s recipes and it turns out amazing!! The only difference is almonds are slightly less fatty butterery taste (silent cry) but the texture is spot on so I don’t miss the cashews. Havnt made these rolls yet but I use almonds to substitute cashews in pie, vegan cheese and cheese sauce, dressings ect and it has worked every time. I have heard that macadamia nuts are a great substitute also but alas they are more costly and I am perpetually broke :)

  • July 16, 2014 at 11:52 pm: Steve D

    My family loved these. I’m going to make them again next week!

  • July 17, 2014 at 1:01 am: Susan

    I’ve now made these twice in 4 days. I didn’t have spinach tonight so used the beet greens I got from the farm today. So good. Our family loves you, Isa!

  • July 19, 2014 at 12:59 am: Ami@NaiveCookCooks

    These look so delicious and loving that cashew based sauce!

  • July 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm: Karen

    I love that the pesto uses pumpkin seeds instead of the very high priced pine nuts. The recipe looks great and easy. I love the addition of blended, soaked cashews to recipes. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this.

  • July 20, 2014 at 3:37 am: Peace Love Kale

    Mmmm, I absolutely love basil! I love how versatile lasagne recipes can be.