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Involatini: Sausage Stuffed Beef Rolls

In Italy, involatini refers to bite-sized bundles of food. An outer layer--meat, vegetable, or poultry, usually--is wrapped around a filling of some sort. An Italian restaurant that we visit on special occasions makes a "chicken rollatini" that is their Americanized version. The restaurant version features chicken wrapped around ham and cheese and topped with a creamy marsala mushroom sauce. It's quite good and very, very rich. I decided to take a different tack and use the involatini/rollatini idea but find a way to streamline a time-consuming assembly process, lighten up the ingredients to limit artery damage, and adapt my recipe to a slow cooker. What I came up with is Sausage Stuffed Beef Rolls. Comparatively inexpensive thin-cut round steak is seasoned and wrapped around Italian turkey sausages. The involatini/beef rolls are nestled in a simple marinara sauce, topped with a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese, and left to do their thing in the slow cooker for 4-8 hours. The rolls come out savory, moist, and full of flavor. They are great over pasta or polenta. Or try them with spaghetti squash for a filling but lighter option.

Involatini:  Sausage Stuffed Beef Rolls

Sausage Stuffed Beef Rolls -- Makes 6

3/4-1 pound of thin-sliced round steak (6 pieces)

6 Italian turkey sausages (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2-3/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

3 tablespoons of minced dried onion, divided

1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2-3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

Coat the inside of a large slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the steak out on a large piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning over the steak, dividing it evenly among the pieces. Sprinkle the steak with 1 tablespoon of the minced dried onion, dividing it evenly among the pieces. Place a sausage on one end of each piece of steak (the smallest end) and roll the sausage up in the steak. Combine the remaining Italian seasoning and minced dried onion and the dried basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, crushed tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Put about a third of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker and then add the beef rolls, nestling them seam-side down in the sauce. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the rolls and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. Cover the slow cooker and cook the beef rolls for 4-5 hours on high or 6-8 on low or until the steak rolls are tender.

Involatini:  Sausage Stuffed Beef Rolls

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