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What is a healthy recipe for lasagna?
Here’s my healthy recipe for lasagne (it’s lasagnE, not lasagnA).
For the ragù
Melt about 20 grams of butter in a large saucepan. Brown 250 grams of minced meat (ask your butcher to mince it before your eyes) and the same amount of fresh Italian sausage (not spiced or flavored). When the meats have browned and released their fat, add one medium onion, one medium carrot, and one stick of celery, all minced very finely, and soften them. When they are soft and translucent, turn up the heat and add a glass (about 125 ml) of dry white wine, something good enough to drink, not cheap “cooking wine”. Simmer away the alcohol (smell the pot, when it’s almost completely dry the smell should change to very mellow) and add two heaped tablespoons of concentrated tomato pure, 250 ml of milk, a pinch of salt and a light grating of white pepper. Simmer this sauce for at least 2 hours, better if you keep it going for 3 hours. If the sauce gets too stiff, add some water. I suggest preparing it one day in advance.
For the white sauce
Melt 50 grams of butter in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add 50 grams of flour and stir well allowing the flour to brown lightly: it should turn golden. Add half a liter of milk and whisk well so that any lump dissolves. Add a pinch of salt, half a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, and stir on until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Cover with a lid to prevent the formation of a top hardened layer (you may also allow some 10 grams of butter to melt on the surface to act as a protective layer).
For the pasta
Use a relatively shallow large pot or pan. Fill it with water and, when the water is at a rolling boil, add a handful of salt. Parboil the lasagne sheets for a couple of minutes (one minute if you are using an egg pasta, as you should since this is a northern Italian recipe). Parboil just 2–3 sheets at a time. When done, retrieve them and lay them on a clean towel without superposing or allowing the sheets to touch.
For the cheese
Use only freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano: a lot of it.
Carefully butter the bottom and sides of your baking dish. Place the first layer of pasta making sure it covers the sides of the baking dish too. Continue alternating a couple of tablespoons of the sauces, a good handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and a layer of pasta. Complete at lease 4–5 layers of pasta, not counting the first one. Dust extra cheese and distribute a few knobs of butter over the surface.
Bake at 220°C for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and broil for 4–5 minutes so that the top layer browns and crisps up. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving.
You may now be wondering when it becomes healthy
That’s easy. While you wait for the lasagne to cool down serve a nice mixed salad as an appetizer. Then serve a moderate portion of pasta. Follow up the pasta bake with some seasonal vegetables (in Summer you may consider some tasty zucchine trifolate), and complete the meal with a light dessert of peaches in red wine.
I’m not going to offer a precise recipe. I will give you some guidelines that you can adjust to suit your taste. This will be a recipe with dairy. If you are lactose intolerant or can’t eat dairy, this probably won’t work for you and neither will any other lasagna recipe.
Meat sauce: Brown some ground beef, Italian sausage, or any other ground meat. The healthiest meat would be from wild game or grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. (Same is true for eggs and dairy products, btw. It isn’t always possible to find or afford, but when possible, it is the best choice for meat and animal products.). If the meat is too lean, add some olive oil. If it is too fatty, drain off some of the rendered fat. Chop or mince some onion and garlic and cook with the meat until translucent. You can also add chopped mushrooms and/or sliced olives if you wish. Then add tomato in the form of paste, sauce, chopped tomatoes, or some combination. I normally just use tomato paste which requires twice the amount of water as a paste. Instead of some or all of the water, you can use red wine and/or broth. Season this meat sauce with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs blend. Or just add individual herbs… parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, and celery seed. Paprika is a nice addition, and if you like the heat, so is some cayenne powder. You can add turmeric for the health benefit if you want. With everything else going on, you won’t really notice it. Simmer the sauce until it is the consistency you want. After it is done, remove from heat and set aside. You can mix in some grated Parmesan cheese if you wish.
Cream cheese layer: ricotta cheese is traditional, but when I was a kid, cottage cheese was usually used, probably because it was cheaper and more readily available. Mix it with a whole egg, parsley, and nutmeg.
Pasta: lasagna noodles are easy to find. You can boil them in water or add them dry if your sauce is wet enough. If you cook them ahead, don’t overcook them. If you are trying to follow a keto or paleo diet plan, they are not what you want. What I like to do is thin slice zucchini long-wise into wide ribbons and use them. I have also taken celeriac and done the same, although it is more of a ball, so you end up with circular slices.
Layering: coat the inside of a casserole dish with olive oil. Lay down a layer of pasta. Then add a layer of meat sauce. Then a layer of ricotta. Then another layer of pasta. Then meat sauce and then ricotta. Add the last layer of pasta and top with shredded mozzarella. Bake in a 325 deg F preheated oven for 30 -45 minutes.
It is low carb, especially if you substitute sliced veggies for the traditional lasagna noodles, and sugar-free. You can chop sweet peppers, hot peppers, carrots, and celery and add to the meat sauce for more vegetables. You can rough chop spinach and add to the ricotta cheese mixture, as well. If you like eggplant, you can try slicing it long-wise and use it in place of lasagna noodles. I use whole milk ricotta and mozzarella, but that is up to you.
I have prepared this, and it is really good, and healthy.
1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 onion chopped
2 zucchini medium
1 summer squash medium
15 oz. whole tomatoes canned
10 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
6 uncooked lasagna noodles
10 oz. cottage cheese small curd
1/2 cup Parmesan grated
1 cup mozzarella shredded
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the chopped onion and ground beef until the beef is fully cooked.
While the beef is cooking, cut the zucchini and summer squash into small, 1/4" - 1/2" cubes.
Once the beef is done cooking, set aside, and drain.
Cook the zucchini and summer squash for about 10 minutes.
Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices.
Continue cooking over medium heat for another 15 minutes, stirring often.
Add the cooked beef and onions back into the tomato sauce mixture and stir.
*Pour about 1/2 of the tomato sauce mixture into an 8" x 10" casserole dish.
*Place 3 of the lasagna noodles on top of the mixture (breaking each one in half if necessary), pressing each one down so that it's covered with about 1/4" of the tomato mixture on top.
*Add 1/2 of the cottage cheese to the casserole dish.
*Top with 1/2 of the Parmesan and 1/2 of the mozzarella.
Repeat steps (*) with the remaining ingredients.
Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.
Serve warm and enjoy!
#Healthy recipe for lasagna:
9 lasagna noodles
1-1/4 pounds bulk Italian sausage
3/4 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (one 28 ounces, one 15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
2/3 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, divided
2 teaspoons dried basil
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook sausage, beef, and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, breaking up meat into crumbles. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Drain.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, 3 tablespoons parsley, basil, fennel, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, mix egg, ricotta cheese, and remaining parsley and salt.
Preheat oven to 375°. Spread 2 cups meat sauce into an ungreased 13x9-in. baking dish. Layer with 3 noodles and a third of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat sauce and cheeses (dish will be full).
Bake, covered, 25 minutes. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes longer, or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Test Kitchen Tips
Don't have Italian sausage on hand? Ground beef will work just fine. If you want to add veggies to this dish, saute them ahead of time to release some extra moisture. Then layer in with your meat and cheeses.
1 piece: 519 calories, 27g fat (13g saturated fat), 109mg cholesterol, 1013mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate (10g sugars, 4g fiber), 35g protein.
As with many foods, there’s nothing intrinsically unhealthy about lasagna.
Make it with whole wheat pasta, fresh ingredients, good cheese, and without too much salt or any added sugar, and—in moderation—it’s a perfectly healthful thing to eat.
I never make it the same way twice, so I can’t offer you a recipe—more of a structural plan. But if you make pasta sauce from scratch, use that. Buy or make some fresh, whole-grained lasagna noodles (or buy some frozen), a good mozzarella cheese, some fresh ricotta (or whipped cottage cheese), and sliced zucchini and mushrooms. Fresh herbs are good, too: oregano, rosemary, parsley.
Layer it thus: sauce, noodles, sauce, veg, ricotta, shredded mozzarella. Repeat. Three layers are good, but even two will work.
Top with grated Parmesan if desired. Bake at 350F for as long as it takes to get it browned and bubbly on top.
9 strips of lasagne noodles
1 box of frozen spinach (300 g)
500 grams of cottage cheese
A jar of Marinara sauce (about 600ml)
Boil the lasagne noodles, drain and set aside
Cook the spinach, drain as much water out as you can by pushing on it with a fork.
Allow spinach to cool a little then mix with the cottage cheese in a bowl.
In a rectangular baking dish put a light layer of the Marinara Sauce.
Layout three strips of lasagne noodles.
Add a layer of the spinach & cottage cheese mix.
Layout three strips of lasagne noodles
Add a layer of the spinach & cottage cheese mix.
Layout three strips of lasagne noodles.
Add a generous amount of the Marinara sauce to cover the whole lasagne.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. The lasagne liquid should be bubbling.
While any lasagna worth its weight in cheese is going to be full of….well, cheese, this hearty Zucchini Lasagna Sans Noodles recipe uses zucchini as the main ingredient. It’s a Blue Ribbon winning recipe and everyone who tries it (even meat-lovers) love the flavors.
QUICK TOMATO SAUCE
1 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
2 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
14 oz tomato sauce (fresh if you have it)
1 Tbsp small capers, drained
1/2 tsp salt, kosher variety
1 lb cottage cheese, large curd
1 c parmesan cheese, finely grated (to be used as a topping after cooking)
1/2 tsp salt, kosher variety
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 lb zucchini
3 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
1 1/2 lb white button mushrooms
·kosher salt, to taste
·black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
10 oz artichoke hearts, frozen or canned
1 Tbsp flour, all-purpose variety (or arrowroot powder)
4 c mozzarella cheese, whole milk, freshly shredded
1 large tomato... your choice
I think it's hard to come up with anything specific because the word ‘health' has such ambiguous and ever-changing meaning; I have little idea what it might mean to you.
All I can say is if there's something you find objectionable, leave that out. Try and substitute something you consider ‘healthier', whatever works for you.
Lasagna is a forgiving dish, its definition is kind of fuzzy too…we all have our own versions and ideas.
Thanks for asking me this question Diane Cestaro.
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