Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Very Veggie Lasagna

I love lasagna, but the reality is that it is filled with low value carbs and fat.  I've been cutting the fat content for years using part skim dairy products, but I wanted to up the nutritional value of this favorite to make it a guilt free option on our menu.  So I decided an increase in veggie count would be the way to go.

I started by breaking down the elements of my regular lasagna, first on the list was the sauce.  I usually use some sort of meat in my sauce, so to cut calories and fat I decided to go with a straight tomato sauce.  This does not need to be boring, there is something really fabulous about a sauce of tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil.  These ingredients served as the base.

The next element is the cheese. Usually I go with a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and egg. I also saw some room to cut calories here.  I like the cheese, but I wanted a lighter feel to the lasagna and envisioned a thin creamy layer instead of a thicker heavy layer. To accomplish this, I cut the amount of ricotta in half, skipped the egg and added milk to make it more of a sauce, allowing a little to go a long way.

The last item, and star of this lasagna was the addition of lots of veggies.  I used a mandolin to make the most delicate paper thin slices.  I knew that these slices would not only add great flavor and bulk, but that they could also replace some of the noodles. In fact, my daughter thought they were noodles and actually ate them! SCORE!

Here is the recipe, remember this is a guideline, next time I make it I am sure some of the veggies will change.  Use what you like, what is in season, or just what needs to be used in your refrigerator.
Very Veggie Lasagna

5 cloves garlic crushed
2 T olive oil
Bunch of basil chopped
2 -28 cans crushed tomatoes
¼ cup red wine
salt and pepper
2 T. Honey

12 lasagna noodles

1 small container part skim ricotta
½ cup 2% milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 oz thinly shredded mozzarella part skim

1 eggplant sliced very thin, salted
1 yellow squash
1 grey squash or zucchini
1 pack portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced

 6 oz thinly shredded mozzarella part skim

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare large pan with Pam spray.  Start with the red sauce.  Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat and add garlic, stir for a minute or two.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients and allow it to simmer while preparing the ingredients for the other layers.

Cook pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside in cool water until needed.

In medium bowl, mix the cheese sauce ingredients.

Prepare the veggies by slicing them thinly using a mandolin slicer. Do the eggplant slices first so you can remove some of the bitterness they hold.  Spread them out on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and then another paper towel.  Slice the remaining veggies on the mandolin and then slice the portabellas by hand.

Assemble lasagna:  pour about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom the pan.  Then line the bottom with 4 noodles.  Top with the eggplants slices, then half of the cheese sauce. Add a thin layer of the red sauce then layer on the yellow squash.  Add another thin layer of the red sauce and a layer of 4 noodles.  Next put the layer of grey squash or zucchini and then the other half of the cheese sauce.  Top with the portabella mushrooms, the last 4 noodles and a layer of red sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until bubbly.  The pan I use is a huge polish stoneware pan and it takes longer to bake in this pan than others, so start checking at 45 minutes if using a glass or aluminum pan.  Once the lasagna is nice and bubbly remove foil and sprinkle 6 oz of mozzarella on top.  Return to the oven for a few minutes for the cheese to melt.  Allow the lasagna to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

I popped the ingredients for this recipe into Mastercook.  I estimated 12 servings for this recipe, which are very nice hearty servings, and the nutritional analysis was quite pleasing.  Per serving:

316 calories
10 grams of fat (5 saturated fat)
17 grams of protein
41 grams of carbohydrates
5 grams fiber

Seconds anyone?