It’s time for another Bake One & Freeze One meal! Today we’re making a comforting, crowd-pleasing spin on lasagna with spinach and shredded chicken thrown in so we can call it healthy.
A quick look on Pinterest will give you thousands of freezer meal ideas or steps for completing a freezer meal-making marathon in one afternoon where 3 hours yields 30 freezer meals. Those are great, but I find them to be a little overwhelming and I don’t think they are the best introduction to freezer meals for those folks who find cooking to be more chore than delight.
My hope with these Bake One & Freeze One meals is they will get you in the kitchen making dinner while slowly helping you to build out a solid freezer meal collection – one meal at a time.
Garrett and I have been traveling back home quite a bit lately and it seems that we always get back to Durham around 4 or 5 on Sunday. Too early to stop and pick up dinner, but too late for me to want to go to the grocery store and plan a meal (umm, not that I ever want to go to the grocery store).
Freezer meals come in handy on days like this when our usual rhythm is thrown off. I know if we get back in town around 5, I can take a homemade meal out of the freezer, put it straight in the oven, and dinner will be taken care of. These lasagna rollups with spinach and chicken are exactly the kind of meal I like to sit down to after a weekend away.
So, let’s talk about lasagna rollups!
If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal that you can throw together after a long day at work before heading off to whatever practice or evening event… well, these are not that meal! Rather, lasagna rollups are a perfect Sunday afternoon project.
The tomato sauce slowly simmers on the stove, filling your whole house with a glorious smell. The chicken cooks in the crockpot (just throw it in before church and you’ll be set). And the spinach mixture is whipped up really quickly in a food processor (or a blender) once your other components are ready to go. Of course, all of these individual steps could be done a day or two in advance.
The actual filling and rolling of the lasagna rollups is a messy process – embrace it! Pour some wine, put on a podcast, and get to rolling. The wine and the podcast are crucial to making the rolling process go faster!
Also, if you’d like to be the best friend or neighbor ever, instead of freezing the second pan, give it away! My suggestion would be to take it to your friend ready to go in the oven, but not yet baked. That way your friend can freeze it OR cook it for their dinner that night and it will be fresh and bubbly hot! Throw in a bagged salad and some garlic toast and they will have a great meal.
I hope you enjoy!
Psst. If you like this post, please consider sharing it!
- 4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- 20 lasagna noodles, boiled and cooled
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
- fresh basil (optional)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ cup red wine (optional)
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- 24 oz low fat cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 16 oz chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- In a crockpot, add chicken breasts and about ½ cup of water. Cook chicken on low for 7 hours or until you can easily shred it. Shred with a fork and allow to cool. This step can be done up to a few days in advance OR prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
- Saute diced onion in olive oil on stove top until the onions are soft. Add in 2 cloves of minced garlic, the dried herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper and let saute for another minute.
- If using, pour in red wine, bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer until wine is reduced by half. When wine is reduced, stir in canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes.
- Bring sauce to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer about an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove top and use immediately or cool and store in fridge for later use.
- In a food processor, pulse garlic cloves a few times to chop them up.
- Add cottage cheese and egg and blend until smooth.
- Add basil, thyme, and parmesan cheese and pulse until combined.
- Add chopped spinach a few handfuls at a time, pulsing until well combined each time. Stir with a spoon a few times to make sure all of the spinach is well-chopped.
- Heat oven to 350 and prepare one baking dish and one freezer pan by spraying with cooking spray and pouring about one cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of each.
- Lay lasagna sheets flat and spread a few spoonfuls of the spinach mixture onto each lasagna sheet. The spinach layer should be very thick, even oozing out the sides when you roll the lasagna sheets.
- Add 4-5 pieces of chicken on one end of lasagna and roll tightly. Place rollup in dish and continue until pan has 10 rollups (2 rows of 5).
- Cover rollups with tomato sauce (about two cups) and top with shredded mozzarella cheese, if desired. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake lasagna rollups at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.
- While first pan is baking, repeat the entire process of rolling your lasagna rollups and add them to the freezer pan.
- Once you have 10 rolls, cover them completely with remaining tomato sauce and shredded cheese. They are now ready for the freezer. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil or accompanying lid.
- Write these instructions on your aluminum pan: From thawed, bake covered 30 minutes, uncover and bake 10-15 minutes. From frozen, bake covered 1 hour 30 minutes, uncover and bake 10-15 minutes.
- Top baked lasagna rollups with fresh basil and/or grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!