Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Baked Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo is like Lasagna Rolls Ups and Cannelloni – but BETTER because it’s everything you know and love about cannelloni, PLUS there are brown crunchy bits. And brown crunchy bits are always the best!

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo

I’m going to call it – this will be the best new thing you’ve made all year. The rich tomato sauce. The creamy spinach and ricotta filling spiked with parmesan and nutmeg. Golden brown bubbly cheese. And the brown crunchy bits, the crowning glory.

How inappropriate would it be to pick off all the crunchy bits before it gets to the table?

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

What is Rotolo?

Rotolo is a traditional Italian dish that’s not widely known outside of Italy. The literal translation of “rotolo” is “scroll”,or “coil”.

The authentic way of making rotolo involves a very large fresh pasta sheet that is spread with a filling then rolled up to form a roulade. It’s quite technical and fussy because you then need to wrap the roulade in a tea towel and poach it, then slice it to serve with a sauce.

For day to day cooking, I shelved this as a “too hard” recipe. But then I came across this baked version made by Jamie Oliver. The way he made it, it was basically cannelloni made with fresh lasagna sheets which is sliced then placed into the tomato sauce and baked.

It’s not purely authentic, but for ordinary people like me, it is much more practical. And so darn tasty! Those brown bits….those crunchy brown bits. They make this dish!

Basically, if you love Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (or this pasta bake or lasagna, for that matter!) then you’re going to be mad over this Rotolo. Guaranteed.

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Spinach Ricotta Rotolo Rilling

Rotolo comes with all sorts of stuffing options. Jamie Oliver’s recipe is made with squash and spinach,  they also come with meat options, and Spinach & Ricotta is a popular option. Here’s what you need for the filling:

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

PS Let’s pretend I didn’t forget to put LASAGNA SHEETS in the above photo!

Spinach Ricotta Rotolo Sauce

And here’s what you need for the sauce:

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Tomato Passata is key for this sauce. Because it’s pureed tomato, it’s the ideal consistency to make a smooth tomato sauce for the Rotolo with just 10 minutes or simmering. Using canned tomato would require at least 30 minutes or simmering for the chunks to break down enough to make the desired consistency for the sauce.

How to make Baked Rotolo

And here’s how it’s made:

  • Make the sauce first;
  • Mix filling, roll up, cut into thirds;
  • Place in sauce, bake!

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

The smells coming out of your oven while it’s baking are pretty darn good.

But that moment when you pull it out of the oven and you stare at what you’ve just made, mesmerised by how magnificent looks…. it’s worth making, just to see THIS in real life:

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

They’re quite sturdy little things, so you don’t need to dig in with a delicate touch. They hold together well (the lasagna sheets adhere as they cook) and they hold their form pretty well as you scoop them up. See? (And just WAIT until you see the video!)

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Truthfully though, some will flop and sag, and fall on their side, and you probably will rip the side off some of the them as you scoop into the pan to plate them up.

And that’s completely on theme. There’s nothing elegant about this Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo. It’s rustic. The best sort of food – relaxed deliciousness!

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)

Being that there’s a couple of bunches of spinach in this (ahem, in the form of frozen spinach!) and a big bottle of tomato passata, there’s actually a decent amount of vegetables in this dish. So I usually serve it just as is without any sides.

But a fresh side salad would certainly elevate the meal – this Rocket Salad with Parmesan Shavings is very on theme (classic Italian) – and I am pretty sure nobody would say no to a side of Garlic Bread.

Now, go forth and impress the pants off your family and friends! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)


Baked Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo

Recipe video above. Rotolo is a lessor known Italian pasta dish where a filling is rolled up in pasta sheets then rolled like a roulade, poached, sliced then served. It is so tasty, but quite technical and time consuming to make. This is my version – a baked version which is made more like cannelloni. Much easier, just as tasty and best of all, you get crunchy brown bits you don’t get with the traditional rotolo!
Course Mains
Cuisine Italian
Keyword lasagna roll ups, rotolo, spinach ricotta recipes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 553kcal
Author Nagi | RecipeTin Eats


  • 8 fresh lasagne sheets (15 x 11 cm/6 x 4.5″) (Note 1)
  • 1 cup mozarella cheese , shredded


  • 500g / 1 lb frozen spinach (pre chopped) , thawed and excess water squeezed out (Note 2)
  • 500 g / 1 lb ricotta cheese (NOT smooth, whipped or spreadable in tubs, Note 3)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese , shredded
  • 1 garlic clove , pressed using garlic crusher or finely grated
  • 1/4 fresh nutmeg , grated (or 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 brown onion , finely diced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 700 g / 24 oz passata (US: Tomato puree) (Note 5)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Handful basil leaves (optional)


Tomato Sauce:

  • Heat oil in a 25cm/10″ ovenproof skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add garlic and sauté for 10 seconds then add onion.
  • Cook onion until translucent and starting to turn golden, then passata, water, chilli flakes (if using), salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes on medium low, then stir through basil.
  • Scoop out 1 cup of the Tomato Sauce which will be used to drizzle over the dish at the end. Keep sauce warm.

Filling & Assembling:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350CF (all oven types)
  • Place Filling ingredients in a bowl. Mix well with wooden spoon.
  • As per the photo & video, lay out the lasagne sheet with the shorter end in front of you.
  • Place 1/3 cup (packed) of filling onto the lasagne sheet. Dab some water on the end furthest away from you (to seal the roll), then roll up starting from the end closest to you. Finish with the seal down.
  • Cut rolls into 3 (so each piece is 3.5cm/1.5″ wide). Place the rolls into the tomato sauce with the filling facing up.
  • Repeat with remaining lasagna sheets until all the Filling is used up.
  • Drizzle the reserved Tomato Sauce over (don’t cover completely, leave some exposed).
  • Cover loosely with foil, bake 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and scatter the mozzarella over. Return to oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden and you’ve got some crunchy golden bits on the edges. Serve!


1. Lasagna sheets – Don’t worry if your lasagne sheets are not exactly the same size. They can be any size as long as they can be cut to size so they are long enough to roll up, then can be cut into 3.5 – 4 cm / 1.5″ little logs.

2. Spinach – thaw then grab handfuls and squeeze out excess water, or press through colander like I do in video.

To use fresh, you’ll need 3 bunches of English spinach – chop off stems, wash throughly, blanch until wilted then finely chop, squeeze out excess liquid and use per recipe (you need 1.5 cups packed, after water squeezed out).

3. Ricotta – don’t use spreadable / whipped or smooth ricotta, these are for spreading on things so they are fluffier and creamier.

5. Passata is pureed tomato, thinner than tomato paste and smoother than crushed tomatoes. Sometimes labelled “tomato puree” in the US.

You can substitute with crushed tomatoes but you will need to add and extra 1 cup of water and simmer for 20 minutes so the tomato breaks down more.

6. To make ahead, this is best frozen before baking. Assemble the dish but do not put the cheese on (because if you bake it the whole time with the cheese, the cheese will burn), freeze in an airtight container, then defrost completely before baking (follow the recipe instructions). You will probably need to add 5 minutes to the baking time.

If you freeze it after baking it: defrost completely then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of water (most of it over the pasta sauce) per 6 pieces of rotolo before reheating. If you reheat it in the microwave, stick it under the grill/broiler for a few minutes (after reheating it) to make the top crunchy again, and I also recommend adding some fresh cheese, just to freshen the dish up. To reheat it in the oven, reheat at 180C/300F covered until just warmed through. Then remove the cover, scatter over some fresh cheese then return to oven until the top is crunchy, the cheese melted and the rotolo is heated through.

7. Nutrition per serving.


Serving: 463g | Calories: 553kcal | Carbohydrates: 53.8g | Protein: 30.6g | Fat: 22.8g | Saturated Fat: 9.8g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 952mg | Potassium: 537mg | Fiber: 3.9g | Sugar: 1.6g | Vitamin A: 6550IU | Vitamin C: 25.6mg | Calcium: 570mg | Iron: 2.9mg

Originally published June 2014. Years overdue for a VIDEO to be added!

Life of Dozer

I’m sure you’d have a very different reaction if that were me and that bottle were real.

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo (Italian Lasagna Roll Ups)


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