How to Make the Perfect Rolled Lasagna
We've all eaten (and cherished) the classic baking-pan lasagna, and there's nothing wrong with that, though it can get a whole lot more exciting. That's what husband-and-wife chef team Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito of Don Angie in New York learned when they first made their now-iconic rolled lasagna.
It all started when Rito saw a picture of cinnamon buns on Instagram, inspiring her to create a rolled lasagna that is cut on the side. It worked on the first try. The culinary couple later realized it's very similar to an Italian dish called rotolo, but they still call their version "lasagna."
It's served as a dish for two at their cozy, corner space in the West Village, where they serve their takes on Italian-American comfort cuisine. The dish has also gained some Instagram fame for its swirled beauty, but appearance isn't really the point.
"We just make the food look nice, but the food has to taste good. That's our main focus," says Tacinelli. He makes the lasagna's bolognese himself daily for that reason.
The rolled shape is also functional. It makes the dish easily shareable, allows the top layer to get crispy, cooks more quickly and creates a lighter result.
The Don Angie lasagna is made in a traditional style, unlike many Italian-American lasagnas, which tend to be heavier and made with ricotta cheese. Instead, this one uses béchamel and 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, like lasagna you'd find in Bologna. The bolognese is also a variation of Bologna-style, made with milk, white wine, pork and veal, but more San Marzano tomatoes than a traditional sauce might have.
Don Angie's 15 tables get booked up pretty quickly (though the bar seating is first come, first served), so you might not want to wait to taste this dish. To try your hand at this round pasta revolution at home, follow Tacinelli's tips for the perfect rolled lasagna.
For rolled lasagna to work, béchamel is a key ingredient. "Not only does it add that flavor I love, but it also acts as the glue to hold it all together," says Tacinelli.
Underneath the lasagna is a simple San Marzano tomato sauce, which consists of crushed garlic, chili flakes and crushed San Marzano tomatoes that are brought to a simmer, seasoned and quickly taken off the heat. "The complete opposite of a Sunday sauce," says Tacinelli, "because we wanted it to be light and acidic; that way it would cut through the richness of the cheese and balance out the dish."
At Don Angie, the lasagna noodles are handmade. If you're buying noodles, Tacinelli recommends using fresh sheets of pasta. "I love hard pasta, but not for lasagna," he says.
"Everything needs to be really, really cold," warns Tacinelli. The sauces and the lasagna can't be made on the same day. If the components aren't cold, the lasagna doesn't roll properly, it's difficult to cut and it may even fall apart. The lasagna turns out best if the components are refrigerated for a day before assembling and cooking the dish.
"You basically roll it like a burrito, except you don't tuck the ends in," instructs Tacinelli. Everything has to be spread evenly and the roll can't be overfilled. Once rolled, the lasagna needs to refrigerate for at least an hour before it's cut so that it hydrates all together. If this step is skipped, it could also fall apart.
Though the preparation time is considerably long, the rolled lasagna is cooked in a oval-shaped casserole dish for only about 12 minutes at 425 degrees.
"We finish it with fresh dollops of robiola cheese, which is basically Italian cream cheese," says Tacinelli, "It adds the creaminess you usually get from lasagna, but it's not heavy."