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Noodlemania! Lasagna Pinwheels {Cookbook Review}

Several months ago, Quirk Books mailed me a review copy of Melissa Barlow's Noodlemania! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes.* I had agreed to review it because my boys were on a huge homemade pasta kick. They had rallied together for a pasta machine and are quite adept with it; they are the Pasta-Making Manns. They even had a "roll-off" with friends for a birthday party. It was Team Linguine v. Team Fettucine. But I put it in the wrong stack of books and completely forgot about it. Yikes. Sorry!

Melissa Barlow's Noodlemania! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes is heavy on the fun factor. Super duper fun. Like play with your food fun. Vivid colors and cutesy drawings grace the pages of the cookbook. And the interspersed Fun Facts are a kick. Did you know that the average American eats 20 pounds of pasta in a year while the average Italian eats 60 pounds of pasta in a year?!? Or that noodles are one of the world's most popular foods, and scientists have found noodles dating back 4,000 years?!

But I think that my boys - who are 9 and 11 years old - were a little outside of the target audience age. I think it would be perfect for a family with a pasta-loving toddler. Maybe early elementary school.

Also, I am not a fan of food coloring. Period. So, while I loved the color contrast of her Seahorse Salad, I would probably try to find tomato pasta and spinach pasta instead of resorting to dying  my cooking water. Same with the Purple Pasta Monster. We love creamy alfredo. It doesn't have to be purple, does it?

In the end, I adapted one of her recipes and we did enjoy it! I used some wild boar meat that a friend gave me, made some fresh tomato sauce, added arugula because I add greens to everything - just ask my veggie-averse sister-in-law! - and it was delicious. But I did diverge from Barlow's original recipe. I will, at another time, give her Ravioli Cupcakes a try. Those sound intriguing.

Lasagna Pin-Wheels
inspired by Melissa Barlow's Noodlemania!

In a souppot, I boiled lasagna noodles and cooked according to the package directions.  In a large saucepan, I cooked four spicy sausages.  Once those were cooked, I cut them into cubes, deglazed the pan with a splash of red wine, and added 5 C of fresh arugula leaves to the wine to wilt the leaves.  In a mixing bowl, I stirred together 1 C of lowfat cottage cheese, 1 C of fresh ricotta, 1 C cubed cheese, 1 T anise seeds, 1/2 C fresh tomato sauce, and 2 beaten eggs.  Then I added the sausages and arugula.  Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spoon the mixture onto one end of a lasagna noodle and roll.  Place roll in a baking dish.  Once you've finished making the rolls, add heavy cream and red wine to the pan.  Sprinkle with parmesan.  Cover pan and bake till the sauce is bubbling, about an hour.

There you have it. I didn't love the cookbook but it was adorable. And I know a few families with younger kiddos who would flip for this book. I mean, how can you not love chicken dinosaurs climbing a mountain of spaghetti? I can definitely see the appeal for the six and under crowd.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book. 
However, all opinions are 100% my own.


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