By Sandi Moynihan
With Thanksgiving a few days away, we’re kicking off our Combat Cooking series with this tasty lasagna roll-up recipe created by USO Camp Arifjan volunteer Army Sgt. Jamie Reed. Reed, who hails from Oregon but is stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., frequently volunteers her culinary skills at USO Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.
“I love cooking,” Reed said. “I love to try to do new recipes, try new things, experiment.
"For these moments while we’re back here and we’re helping bake [and cook], it almost feels like you’re at home [and not deployed]. Like it’s normal.”
In particular, Reed enjoys baking brownies, cookies and other sweet treats for center patrons, although she has recently started to cook more savory items, like these lasagna roll-ups.
“I think baking is easier out here just because all we have is the oven and then individual appliances, but we always make it work,” Reed said.
Because USO Camp Arifjan doesn’t have a full kitchen, Reed says she often has to get creative with cooking techniques while cooking at the center. A few of her tricks to include boiling water in the microwave and cooking items at low temperatures for long periods of time.
“You learn. You figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” Reed said.
No matter how the dishes from USO Camp Arifjan come together, Reed says there’s never any complaints from the patrons who eat them.
“Homemade goods are like one of the most highly coveted things when you’re deployed, because it reminds you of home.”
While this vegetarian recipe looks gourmet, rest assured, it is extremely easy and fast to whip together. From start to finish, the entire dish took Reed around 30 minutes to prepare and about 40 minutes to cook.
The USO Camp Arifjan staff was able to easily find all the ingredients at a grocery store in nearby Kuwait City for less than $20. Considering this recipe feeds 8-10 people, this is would be a great meatless Monday dinner option for a family on a budget.
With all that in mind, happy cooking!
Volunteer Jamie’s Lasagna Roll-Ups
- 18 oz ricotta cheese
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1.5 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 9-oz package of lasagna pasta sheets
- 2 25 oz. jars of pasta sauce, divided
- 2 eggs
- Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1.5 cups of the mozzarella cheese, the Italian blend cheese, the parmesan cheese and the two eggs. Stir all the ingredients together until they are evenly mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the bowl aside.
Half-fill a large, flat microwave-proof dish (like a glass, 9" x 13" cake pan) with water. Place the dish in the microwave and cook the water on high until it reaches a boil, about 4-5 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the microwave and place it on a heat-safe surface. Add half of the pasta noodles from the lasagna sheet package to the hot water. Let the noodles sit in the hot water for several minutes until they soften, making sure the noodles don’t stick together. When the noodles are softened, remove them from the water and carefully place them aside. Repeat this process until all the lasagna pasta sheets are softened.
Spray on 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking oil. Spread ½ cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of each dish.
Then, working with one lasagna pasta sheet at a time, spread 2-3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each sheet. Carefully roll the sheet up like a carpet and place into the sauce-covered baking dish. Continue until all lasagna pasta sheets are filled.
Evenly pour the remaining pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese over the baking sheet.
Bake at 275°F until the lasagna roll-ups are cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve while still warm.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days and frozen for up to one month.
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.
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