Lasagna Roll ups is a scrumptious pasta dish, something in between Lasagna and Cannelloni. It's a very popular Italian dish and it's as delicious as you may think. These roll-ups are stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, and Ham, then they're drowned in homemade marinara sauce and béchamel.
Lasagna rollups are also known in Italy as Nidi di Rondine, which literally means Swallow Bird's Nests. Because we usually place the roll-ups vertically in the pan, making it look like a cute nest. In this recipe, I placed the roll-ups horizontally, because the Lasagna pasta I bought was too wide to be placed vertically.
If you use homemade pasta dough or can find the "Lasagna Riccia" pasta which is just a couple of inches wide, you can place the rolls vertically and make the classic Italian Nidi di Rondine.
This recipe doesn't have so many ingredients if you want some shortcuts. You can buy jarred white sauce and marinara, but in the below instructions, I'll also explain how to make both of them from scratch if you prefer.
- Pasta. The most common pasta shape to make roll ups is called Lasagna Riccia. It's smaller than the typical Lasagna sheet and it also has a cute curly border.
- Spinach. I tend to prefer frozen spinach when I use it in pasta because it's easier to cook. But you can also use fresh spinach. Cook them with garlic, salt, and pepper. Drain and let cool.
- Ricotta. 1 Ricotta is usually enough to mix with 1 pound of frozen spinach. Get good quality Ricotta and drain a little bit if it's too watery.
- Tomato Sauce. You can buy your favorite jarred marinara sauce, but I like to make my own with good quality tomato puree, basil, garlic, and salt.
- Béchamel Sauce. Béchamel can also be easily found jarred (most commonly known as white sauce). Feel free to cut this corner or make your own very easily with just butter, flour, and milk.
- Ham. I know there may be many varieties of sliced cooked ham in the cold cuts section of your grocery store. If they have an Italian brand, get that! Otherwise, go for the simpler one. It shouldn't be roasted, it shouldn't have herbs or any other spices. If it has a ribbon of fat on the side, that's the best.
- Mozzarella. I normally prefer to use fresh good quality Mozzarella, but in this case, all I want is to have a nice melted cheese, you can also use grated Mozzarella, which is easier to sprinkle and cheaper.
See the recipe card for quantities.
First start by cooking the spinach with 1 glove of garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. When they're fully cooked, drain the excess water and set them aside to cool. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil.
Mix the spinach with the Ricotta cheese in a bowl, and set aside.
Boil the pasta for 4-5 minutes, then drain it and set it on a clean towel. On each pasta piece, spread the ricotta and spinach cream.
Add a piece of ham slice and sprinkle with grated Mozzarella cheese.
Roll the pasta tightly.
In a baking dish, spread a bottom layer of marinara and béchamel sauce, then place the lasagna rollups either vertically or horizontally as you prefer, filling up the whole dish.
Spread on top the remaining white sauce.
Then, pour over the remaining marinara and white sauce, making sure all the pasta is covered, to finish cooking correctly.
Sprinkle with abundant mozzarella cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden on top.
Marinara Sauce Instructions
If you want to make homemade sauce, start preparing it in advance.
In a small saucepan, add olive oil and a minced clove of garlic. Sautè for a minute, then add the tomato purée, a half glass of water, and a handful of basil leaves. You can also use dried basil or frozen basil.
If you prefer, feel free to add oregano, chili pepper flakes, and other spices you usually like in tomato sauce.
Season with salt to taste and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce) Instructions
Béchamel is also commonly known as white sauce and it's present in many Italian recipes, like Cannelloni, Lasagne, Pasta al Forno, and so on. The jarred white sauce is usually pretty dense, which you may dilute with a bit of milk to make it more easily spreadable.
In a pan, melt the butter, then add the same amount of flour and mix into a paste. Add the milk (warm or room temperature works best. Whole or skim shouldn't make much difference but whole milk works best).
Whisk continuously to break down any clumps, until the milk starts simmering. Turn down the heat and let it simmer until the sauce becomes denser. Turn off the heat when you have your desired consistency (taking into consideration that cooling down it will become denser).
Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and, if you like, a tiny pinch of nutmeg.
Here are a few substitution ideas to change this recipe:
- Vegetarian - Feel free to skip the sliced ham and prepare simple but delicious spinach lasagna roll ups.
- Meatier - If instead of marinara sauce, you wish to use a meat sauce to make this more similar to a Lasagna, here you can find the recipes for Tuscan Ragù or Bolognese Ragù.
- More Vegetables - Spinach is not enough for your taste? Then why not add also some sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, or even pumpkin.
- All White - I'm a fan of all white, like my White Lasagna or Cannelloni. Feel free to skip the tomato sauce and make sure you add more white sauce to cover all the pasta.
Apart from standard pots and pans, the only equipment you'll need for this recipe is a nice baking dish. The one I used is a Le Creuset stoneware Oval dish (affiliate).
You can use also square or rectangular dishes. The dimensions may vary depending on the size of your roll-ups. I used a 10-inch 4 qt dish.
You can store leftovers covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. Or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat I suggest first thawing, then keeping it out of the fridge for about 1 hour and reheating in the oven for 15 minutes. You can also easily reheat in the microwave if you prefer.
FAQ & Tips
Yes, you can make it up to 2 days in advance. Keep the uncooked roll-ups in the fridge and take them out 1 hour before baking, then bake according to instructions.
You can make this recipe much quicker if you want to use jarred marinara and white sauce. Choose your favorite best quality brand!
The easier choice would be to buy fresh lasagna pasta from your grocery store or favorite pasta maker. This way you'll be able to cut it to your preferred size to make the roll-ups. Otherwise, you can make the fresh pasta yourself! Also, make sure you can online, you can find Lasagna Riccia also on Amazon (affiliate).
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Spinach & Ham Lasagna Rollups
- 1 pack Wavy Lasagna Pasta
- 1 cup Tomato Sauce, see notes
- 1 cup White Sauce, see notes
- 1 lb Frozen Spinach
- 1 clove Garlic, halved
- 8.8 oz Ricotta
- ¾ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
- 4 slices Cooked Ham
- Olive Oil
- Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a pan, drizzle some olive oil and add the halved garlic clove. Add the frozen spinach and cover with the lid. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the spinach is fully cooked. Season with salt and black pepper, then drain the excess water and set them aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta for 4-5 minutes, then drain it and set each piece on a clean towel, well separated from each other otherwise they would stick.
- In a bowl, mix the Ricotta cheese with the spinach, then spread the mix on each lasagna piece.
- Add a piece of sliced cooked ham in the middle and sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella cheese. Roll each piece tightly.
- In a baking dish, spread the tomato sauce and béchamel sauce on the bottom, then add the lasagna roll-ups on top.
- Cover the roll ups with tomato sauce and white sauce, making sure the pasta is all well covered so it will finish cooking correctly in the oven.
- Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella cheese on top and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden on top.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.