Cold weather calls for cozy pasta dishes, full to the brim with bubbling sauce and melted cheese.
Lasagna rolls are a classic favorite and this version makes the most of my favorite winter produce: Kale and butternut squash, along with a heavy dose of cheese, sausage, and a little brown butter crisp sage. The lasagna rolls are baked in a brown butter fontina sauce which is made…..wait for it!…in a blender. A blender!! Turns out my Vitamix can make hot cheese sauce in 5 minutes(more on this later) and it’s pretty much life-changing.
While lasagna rolls are always visually pleasing, I think it’s a shame to hide all the pretty pasta swirls by placing them to the side so I decided to make this cheesy bake vertical roll style – that way we can all enjoy those pretty oranges and greens, studded throughout the dish.
So. Back to the blender sauce. You literally put cream, cheese, and seasonings in the Vitamix, turn it slowly up to high speed, and let it blend for about 5 minutes. Once steam escapes from the vent you turn the blender off, open up the lid, and find yourself with a blender-ful of steaming hot, creamy cheese sauce. No stovetop, no saucepan, no sputtering. It’s the easiest method of making cheese sauce I have ever used and I’m a little obsessed with it, to say the least.
The nice thing about making sauce in the Vitamix? It has sensors that will shut it down if the motor gets too hot so you don’t have to worry about destroying your precious piece of equipment while cooking in it(cooking in it?! a blender?! how COOL is that?). No burnt out motors here.
FYI, if you are in the market for a Vitamix they are running a sale this month where many of their blenders are on sale! I’m definitely adding this to my gift guide(coming in a few days!) as I adore mine and use it several times a week(or several times a day!).
Oh, this pasta? My husband could not get enough. High praises kept escaping his lips after almost every bite while we enjoyed it last night and he asked my to please make it again soon. For a man who is happy with almost everything he eats and therefore never worries about what will grace his plate at the dinner table each night, this is a good thing. It means he really really really really really really liked it.
If you don’t eat meat, just leave the sausage out. This dish makes a fabulous meat-free option sans sausage.
And if you don’t like sausage? Bacon, ham, pancetta….all good subs. Just don’t leave out the butternut squash. It’s sweetness punctuates the savory cheeses and meat in an absolutely necessary way. YUM!
More cozy pasta dishes?
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ¼ cup+ Water
- 1 small Butternut Squash, cut into small cubes
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- ½ bunch Kale (I used Tuscan, but curly would be great too), cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 pound Italian Sausage, cooked and crumbled
- 16 ounces Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
- 16 ounces Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 12 Lasagna Noodles, cooked(I cook them 75% of the way so that they are still firm but can continue cooking the rest of the way once they are stuffed and baking in the sauce).
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- 4 ounces Butter(salted)
- ¼ cup Fresh Sage Leaves (20 leaves or so)
- 1 cup Heavy Cream, room temperature
- 1 cup Half & Half, room temperature
- 4 ounces Fontina Cheese, shredded
- 1¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish (I used 2 round dishes, but a 9x13 should work).
- Place the olive oil and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Add the cubed butternut squash to the pan and cover. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally and re-covering. Add more water, if it all evaporated before squash is tender. When Squash is tender, remove the lid and add the garlic and kale. Saute for minutes, or until kale is wilted.
- Remove from heat and toss in the cooked sausage. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the shredded mozzarella and ricotta in a mixing bowl and mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Lay the cooked lasagna noodles out on a clean work surface. Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the noodles and press the filling evenly down each noodle.
- Divide the sausage/squash mixture between the noodles and spread the filling out amongst each noodle.
- Roll each noodle up into a pinwheel and place, spiral side up, in the prepared baking pan.
- MAKE THE SAUCE:
- Place the butter in a saute pan and heat over medium/high heat. Butter will melt - once the butter begins to foam, add the sage leaves. Continue to cook the butter and sage, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter gives off a nutty aroma and turns golden brown. Remove from heat. Scoop the sage leaves and 2 tablespoons of the butter into a little bowl and set aside.
- Pour the remaining butter into a Vitamix blender container.
- Add the cream, half and half, fontina, 1 cup of parmesan(reserve the other ¼ cup), pepper, nutmeg and salt to the blender and fit the lid on top.
- Place the blender on it's base and turn it on to variable 1. Slowly turn the dial up to variable 10 and let run for 5 minutes, or until steam escapes the vent. Turn off the blender and carefully remove the lid.
- Pour the sauce over the top of the lasagna rolls.
- Sprinkle the reserved parmesan over the top of the sauce.
- Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven and drizzle the top of the pasta with the reserved sage leaves and brown butter.
*A special thanks to Vitamix for sponsoring this post!