- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef, browned and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 3 dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce
- 8 pre-cooked lasagna noodles
- I large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into thin planks (aim for 6 to 8 slices)
- 2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin planks (aim for 6 to 8 slices)
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained (optional)
- 8 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 cups reduced-fat shredded mozzarella (part-skim on the label)
- Imported Parmesan cheese, grated
TODAY guest Joann Rosetti is proud of her Italian heritage and loves to cook for her whole family. One of her favorite foods is a classic lasagna that contains multiple calorie-dense (and delicious) ingredients, like meat sauce, cheese and lasagna pasta noodles.
This lightened up version contains all of the components that she enjoys, but far few calories. Here are the four major changes that we've made to lower the calories:
1. Swapping half the noodles for planks of zucchini and eggplant "noodles"
2. Cutting the amount of meat in half and using extra lean ground beef
3. Cutting the total amount of both ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and using reduced fat versions
4. Topping the whole thing with a grating of fresh imported Parmesan cheese
In the new version, we trimmed 325 calories per serving.* Paired with a mixed green salad, it's a tasty and calorie-controlled alternative.
Note: You can also use a prepared, low-fat jarred sauce of your choice, and add the ground beef and seasonings, or skip the beef altogether.
*A serving is 1/12 of a 9-inch x 13-inch pan (12 pieces – one piece is 3 inches x 4 inches)
Original lasagna: 625 calories (3 x 4 inch piece)
"Lightened up" Lasagna: 300 calories
Joann's total savings: 325 calories
For the Meat Sauce:
In a large non-stick saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, and add the garlic and onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until soft. Add the tomatoes, ground beef and seasonings, and stir together. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the Noodles:
Lay out your ingredients in preparation for assembly. To reduce the excess moisture in the eggplant slices, spread them on paper towels, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and let them stand for 15 to 20 minutes. You can skip this step if you like, but eggplant will be more water logged and spongier in texture.
To Build the Lasagna:1.
Start with a nonstick 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan (or coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray).2.
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer four lasagna noodles evenly. Layer half of the zucchini slices and half of the eggplant slices. Spread the spinach evenly (optional). Spread the ricotta cheese evenly. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese.3.
Cover with the remaining four lasagna noodles. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the pan. Layer the rest of the zucchini and eggplant slices. Add the rest of the sauce, spreading it evenly over the pan. Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella on the top. Grate some of the fresh Parmesan cheese over the top (about 3 tablespoons).4.
Cover with foil (spray with cooking spray first) and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.5.
Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes until brown and cheese melted and bubbly (check at 25 minutes). Allow the lasagna to rest for 15 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces. Serve.