My Shortcut Foodful Lasagna
I don't think I know anyone who doesn't absolutely love a good hearty lasagna! It is for me the epitome of comfort food: wholesome, warm, cheesy, moist, soft and....healthy! Yup! I am putting healthy and cheesy lasagna in the same sentence and this recipe is PROOF that delicious and incredibly tasty food can also be good for you. I strongly believe we should all be able to eat our favorite foods, and feel our best afterwards! It just takes a little tweeking with the right ingredients and the right tips and techniques to transform most recipes into the best version of themselves (if only it could be that easy to transform ourselves)! In fact, I have been doing this all my life, ever since I started experimenting in the kitchen as a young girl, I never once followed a recipe as it was laid out in a book. Either I reduced the amount of sugar or fat, swapped the regular flour for a healhtier one, used a lower fat option of a certain ingredient when it was worth it (since low-fat is not always the better option), added in some ingredients to boost the recipes nutrient profile...you name it I will do it as long as my end result will be a sinfully delicious, yet foodfully nutritious version of the original! If you aren't convinced, I DARE you to try my version and make sure to tell me what you think afterwards!
My Shortcut Foodful Lasagna
I call this my "shortcut" lasagna recipe because typically I would make my own all organic meat sauce with lean ground beef, onions, garlic and canned tomatoes, but that takes time and quite frankly I just didn't have it in me to add an extra task to this already pretty engaging recipe. Plus, I had a few of my childhood friend's, Stefano Faita, sauces that I was eager to try and figured this was the best time to do so. His Sausage and Mushroom Sauce did not disappoint...now if only I could get him to make his sauces organic...
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
1 box (375 g) lasagna pasta (I love and use BioItalia, not only are they organic, but a box has 12 sheets and they cook super easily without breaking or sticking otgether)
1 bottle (635 ml) Stefano Sausage and Mushroom Sauce (although it isn't organic, it met all my other nutritional requirements and tasted like a real Italian homemade sauce; I added leftover pork patties chopped up in small pieces to the sauce for extra meat, this is a great way to use up and not waste leftovers)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced finely
2 garlic cloves, diced finely
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 container (227 g) white mushrooms
1 container (300 g) low-fat (7%) ricotta cheese
1 whole egg
4 hard-boiled eggs, grated
300 g mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmiggiano cheese, grated
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven at 375⁰F (convection oven).
Cook the lasagna sheets according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, run them under cold water, dry them with a kitchen towel and lay them on a cutting board or cookie sheet making sure that the lasagna sheets don't touch eachother.
Prepare your vegetables, then heat up the oil in a pan and add them to it. Let them cook down, adding salt and pepper to season. Once cooked transfer them to a bowl and let cool.
In my case, I will be using my leftover pork patties to add extra meat to Stefano's meat sauce. If you have any leftover meat you can use it to beef up a bottled meat or regular tomato sauce. Chop up your meat and add to the pan where you cooked the vegetables to soak up all the bits of caramelized veggie flavor left behind. If necessary, add a little water to scrape all the bits out so that your meat can absorb all that goodness. Mix in the bottled sauce, turn off the heat and set aside.
Add the ricotta and the whole egg to the vegetable bowl and mix well. The egg will make sure that the ricotta-vegetable mixture will hold up and stay together, instead of ooze out of the lasagna when you cut into it.
To assemble the lasagna start by covering the bottom of your lasagna dish (13x9 inch baking dish) lightly with some of the meat sauce, then add 3 lasagna sheets, top it with 1/3 of the ricotta vegetable mixture, about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the grated eggs and 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat this layer another two times. Finally add the last three lasagna sheets and top with the remaining meat sauce and cheese.
Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and let it bake in the oven for 40 minutes, then uncover and cook for an extra 20 minutes. Because I love my edges extra crispy and love the little burnt pieces of sauce and cheese, I also broiled it on high for a few minutes.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it rest loosely covered for 15 minutes before you cut into it and dig in.
Did you know that ricotta cheese is a healthier cheese that you can feel good about incorporating into your daily snacks and meals? Ideally, if you make it a part of your daily diet, you want to choose a partially skimmed milk ricotta, not one made with whole milk. It will have lesser fat and calories. Ricotta, even the lower fat one has a naturally light, airy, yet creamy texture, which makes it feel like you're splurging. It is not only lower in fat than most cheese, it also has 6 g of protein and 15% of your daily calcium needs in only 1/4 cup serving! It adds creaminess to this recipe as well as other nutrients, but you can also enjoy it mixed in with some fruits as a snack or spread onto a toast and drizzled with a touch of honey. I also love using it to make my simile yet foodful rosé sauce.
In this recipe I added vegetables (zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, onions) not only to add moisture and flavor, but extra fiber, vitamins and minerals which are often lacking in a classic lasagna. It's also an incredibly easy way to sneak in vegetables into a meal and get both picky eaters or kids to eat their vegetables!
My Food Tips and Tricks
When choosing bottled tomato sauce you want to look for a clean ingredient list, this means no added fillers, preservatives and sugar.
You also want to look at the nutritional facts table and choose one that ideally per serving (125 ml) has no more than 5 g of fat, 5 g of sugar (if more and there is no sugar added, it means it is all the natural sugars from the tomatoes and that's ok) and no more than 400 mg of sodium.
To speed up the cutting/chopping/grating of the vegetables, you can simply cut them into big chunks and then add them to a blender or food processor bowl and just pulse until you get finely chopped pieces.
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