I know how it sounds. Healthy and lasagna in the same sentence? What about all the fat from the cheese and carbs from the noodles? Yes, of course, there's cheese and pasta. It won't be lasagna without these two ingredients. But with the summer coming, let's look at how we can use fresh vegetables to load up our healthy lasagna recipe with flavor and cut down on fat and carbs.
I've made this lasagna for very picky eaters and they still loved it, in spite of vegetables in it. The key is to blend in the vegetables with traditional lasagna ingredients.
Let your imagination run wild and choose the veggies that you like. This is a great way to use up all the veggies you got at the farmers market or in your CSA box. If you have a garden you know how at the peak of summer, everything seems to come in at the same time and you are overrun with squash and tomatoes? I bet making lasagna with all this bounty isn't on the top of your list, but it could be.
I love using zucchini, summer squash, or eggplant in this recipe. Just slice eggplant or zucchini lengthwise, brush with olive oil and roast in the oven until softened. If you like spinach, go ahead and add a layer of sauteed spinach.
I am also a big fan of mushrooms, I think they go perfectly with cheesy pasta. I sauté them in a little bit of olive oil with a couple of sprigs of thyme, salt, and pepper.
For the tomato sauce, I like using Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil pasta sauce. I know using jarred sauce is anathema to some but I think it tastes great (and I love basil). Use your favorite sauce, of course, homemade would be best, but jarred would work just fine. If you have fresh herbs, you can add a tablespoon of finely chopped basil for even more flavor.
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Make It Low Carb
If you eat a low carb diet or are gluten-free, just omit the noodles. Use roasted zucchini and eggplant in place of noodles and lasagna will hold its shape when sliced and will look like a real thing. I promise you won't even miss the noodles.
Note: I use no-cook lasagna noodles. I know some purists won't consider using no-cook pasta, but I really can't tell the difference. It saves a step and you don't have to wash the pasta pot, win-win, in my opinion.
I prefer reduced-fat ricotta and reduced-fat mozzarella, there's already so much flavor, I really don't miss the extra fat and I like lighter-tasting dishes anyway. If you don't like reduced-fat anything, go ahead and use the full-fat stuff.
- 9 uncooked lasagna noodles
- 1 lb lean ground beef (omit if making a vegetarian version)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ¾ tsp kosher salt (divided)
- 1 jar (25.5 oz) Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil pasta sauce or equivalent amount of homemade sauce
- ½ tsp dried or fresh basil–optional
- 1 eggplant sliced lengthwise
- 1 zucchini sliced lengthwise
- 3-4 cups mushrooms, tough stems removed, thinly sliced
- 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 1 egg
- 1 15 oz container reduced-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
In a 12″ skillet brown the ground beef, add garlic, and saute for a few minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
Stir in pasta sauce, ¼ tsp salt, and basil. Cover and cook on low simmer for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, evenly spread out eggplant and zucchini slices, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for about 10-25 minutes until slightly browned.
Preheat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet and cook mushrooms with thyme until cooked through. Discard thyme sprigs.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, and basil.
Spray 13×9 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Spread about ½ cup sauce mixture in the bottom of the baking dish and top with 3 noodles.
Then start layering. 1/3 of the sauce mixture, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, a layer of roasted eggplant and 1/3 of mozzarella. Repeat layers, using mushrooms in the middle layer.
Sprinkle the last layer with parmesan cheese.
If you aren't using noodles, substitute roasted eggplant and zucchini for noodles
Cover lasagna with foil and bake for about 35-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10-15 longer until bubbly.
Let stand for a few minutes before serving then cut into 12 squares.
Cost per serving: $1.83
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