Try though she did, La Grand Diva does not like modified lasagna. I’ve tried replacing the noodles with zucchini, with eggplant, just leaving them out and doing a lasagna skillet – all to no avail. When it comes to lasagna, the child is a purist.
Recently she went on a four day outdoor adventure trip with her class. Upon her return I told her I’d fix her anything she wanted to eat. She modestly requested lasagna but made a stipulation. “I want regular lasagna.” How could I say no? But how could I say yes? Easy! I just did what I always tell you guys to do. I played with my food!
I should say before I get into the recipe, the child, I think, was totally expecting a microwave sized Stouffer’s lasagna and probably would have been thankful for it. Luckily for her, I can’t let myself do that. This is probably a weekend dish or a prep ahead and cook during the week dish. At any rate, here we go!
Nik’s Healthy(er) Lasagna
(the size I made serves…a million…but it’s good if you want to make two or three small casseroles and freeze a few)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground turkey or lean ground beef
4 links of turkey Italian Sausage
1 economy sized jar spaghetti sauce of your choosing (yes, I cheated on this part – shoot me!)
3/4 c. water
32 oz. container ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
2 + 1 c. mozzarella cheese
1 + 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. liquid egg substitute (or 2 eggs, or 3 egg whites)
1 box whole wheat, high fiber lasagna noodles (whatever you buy, look for the kind that doesn’t require you to cook the noodles first)
Preheat your oven to 350.
In a pan sprayed with non-stick (fat saving tip #1 – when using fatty meats, you don’t really need olive oil unless you like the taste of it), sautee onions and peppers with garlic until tender. Set aside in a bowl.
Add in ground meat and sausages (cut from their casings of course) and brown. After browning, drain meat of excess fat in collander, rinse pan and re-spray it. Add veggie mixture back in and about 1/2 your jar of spaghetti sauce. Add water and then simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until sauce turns dark red and water is reduced a bit.
In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheeses with egg and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
In baking pan, spread a layer of the meat sauce mixture around the bottom of the pan. Then lay 3-4 lasagna noodles UNCOOKED across the sauce (how many depends on the size pan you use).
Next spread a layer of your cheese mixture. Repeat until layers twice more. Cover the whole thing with the remaining sauce from your jar and the remainder of your cheese. It should look like this in the end:
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow lasagna to cool as the oven cools. It should look like THIS when it’s done:
Cut and serve!
Cut and serve!
La Grande Diva was happy. She didn’t mind the whole wheat noodles (although, to be fair, I’ve always given them whole wheat starch products so she’s more likely to notice regular noodles) and has been happily plowing her way through this bad boy ever since. Even gave me the stink eye for inviting others over to share it!
This is a great “bridge” recipe in my opinion. Sometimes you have to ease your family into the concept of healthier eating. This dish is a good example because it has enough splurges to feel like comfort food but with healthy swaps!