Casserole with an Italian Flair

It is cold and really icy outside, so it's time for some fun indoors. It’s time to cook! A satisfying casserole like my QUICK LASAGNA ROLLS make the perfect Italian-style meal for a wintry evening. If you’re in the mood for lasagna but not in the mood to spend over an hour putting it together, try this simplified version. Because no sautéing is required, these fancy rolls are ready for the oven in less than thirty minutes. Yay!


Quick Lasagna Rolls

Makes 4 to 6 servings

8 whole-grain lasagna noodles (you may use gluten-free variety)

1⁄2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

1 jar (about 25 ounces) low-fat marinara sauce

14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu, drained

1 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2 to 3 tablespoons dried basil

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tablespoons dried parsley

1⁄2 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari

5 to 6 large green olives, preferably queen or sevillano, pitted and chopped (optional)

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ or oat bran (you may use gluten-free breadcrumbs)

2 cups shredded vegan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the noodles. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are almost tender. Drain and rinse under cool water, then drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with optional 1 teaspoon of the oil and gently toss to coat. Allow the noodles to cool. Meanwhile, spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking pan.


Put the tofu, 1⁄2 cup of the basil, and the parsley, tamari, and remaining optional 1⁄2 teaspoon of oil in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher until the mixture has the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the optional olives and the garlic and stir until thoroughly combined.


Lay a noodle on a large cutting board. Spoon about 1⁄4 cup of the tofu mixture along the length of the noodle, spreading it evenly with the back of the spoon.



Gently roll into a spiral shape. Set the roll in the baking pan seam-side down. Continue with the remaining noodles and filling, arranging them snugly in the pan.


Set aside 3⁄4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce. Spoon the remainder over the rolls, distributing it evenly. Sprinkle 1⁄4 cup of the basil over the top.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven but do not turn the oven off. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the rolls, then sprinkle with the wheat germ, vegan cheese, and remaining 1⁄4 cup of basil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is slightly browned.

Put the pan on a wire rack. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve 1 to 2 rolls per person, spooning the sauce from the bottom of the pan over top of the rolls.