Monday, January 21, 2013

Healthy Lasagna!

Okay, so this is my first recipe blog so let's hope it goes well.
This is a "healthy" version of the recipe that I've used from (see below)
First I want to say how much I love Chef John. I wish he was a calculus expert and had him as a professor.

Sorry for the poor quality photos, they were taken from my phone with poor lighting!

Okay, so let's get started!
First of all, there are 3 components to lasagna. 
1. The Noodles
2. The Sauce
3. The Cheese

Things you'll need: 
(I realized as I was going through that I didn't have exactly what I needed but I improvised)
  • 100% Whole Wheat Lasagne Noodles
  • 1 lb of ground protein (I used turkey breast but you could do chicken, beef, pork, tempeh)
  • 2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce (look for something "natural" or organic)
  • 1 large container of skim ricotta cheese (Chef John would not approve but we're trying to be healthy!)
  • 1 egg (this was an ingredient I didn't have)
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 large white onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 slice/block of parmesan cheese 
  • 1 bag of Italian cheese blend
  • Dried or fresh oregano and/or parsley 
Prep time: About 2 hours
Cook time: 1 hour

First, start with the sauce. 
I chopped up some onions and garlic and browned them up in my frying pan with a little olive oil spray.

The amount of onions and garlic is up to you. You could also add mushrooms!
I then add my MEAT. I used ground extra lean breast of turkey which I got at Hy-Vee. For healthier options, go for ground turkey or chicken or lean beef. I also try to get it natural so it doesn't have any msg or anti-biotics. 

Break up the meet as much as possible and brown until it is fully cooked.

Add 2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce. I think this is the most crucial ingredient to this recipe. The overall taste of your lasagna depends on the sauce. I just used what I had in my pantry. I'm going to try and make homemade marina sauce sometime.

Just add the 2 jars into your mixture (I only used 1 but 2 gives the best result)

You're going to put this on high heat until it starts to bubble up. Then, reduce the heat and let it simmer for an hour. In Chef John's video he says to do 2 hours but let's be real. The sauce will reduce slightly so if you only use 1 jar of sauce it will be more of a sloppy joe type consistency. If you want more of a thinner, saucier type of sauce, use 2 jars!

So while we let the sauce simmer, move on to the noodles. To make the lasagne more guilt-free, use whole grain noodles. You want to make sure the first ingredient is 100% whole grain. I'm not sure if they do quinoa or brown rice lasagna noodles for those who are gluten-free but I'm sure there are some options.

Just stick the noodles in a large stock pot and cook according to the package. Make sure you salt the water! You also can go slightly al dente with the noodles because they will cook more in the oven later.

So now that our stove is invaded with the sauce and noodles, let's move to the counter and start on the cheese.

The cheese part is probably the trickiest to convert into being healthy. The biggest thing you can do is use a low-fat skim ricotta cheese. You also can use less of it.
I grated my parmesan, and I used a bag of Italian cheeses and again look for low-fat or skim variations. Fresh mozzarella was another ingredient I forgot I didn't have.
Add the 3 different cheeses into a bowl and mix. Add an egg (which I did not do) to make it softer and thinner. Since I didn't have any eggs, I just added a little milk. The main consequence was that it was harder to spread because it was so thick but no biggie).
To add some color and some more nutrients I added some spinach into my cheese mixture as well as some dried oregano, salt and pepper.

Now we start our assembly area. The noodles should be cooked and rinsed with cold water (so it's easier to handle) and the sauce is simmered and is ready to roll.
If you have a lasagna pan, then good for you. However I just used a traditional baking pan.
Start with a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. And then add a layer of noodles, lining them up in one direction (insert singing What Makes You Beautiful).

After that, add a layer of the cheese mixture, and then repeat!

When I put down the 2nd layer of noodles, I like to go the opposite direction of the first layer.

When completely assembled, you'll have 3 layers of noodles, 4 layers of sauce, 2 layers of the cheese mixture, and then 1 layer of cheese on top. I used the grated parmesan to cover the top but you could also use mozzarella or the cheese blend as well.

Put in the oven for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
And then after 30 minutes take the foil off and cook for another 30 minutes.

If you want to picture perfect lasagna, let it cool for a good 30 minutes if not more. If you cut into it and serve right away, the cheese and the layers will just ooze out and fall to apart!

Although it is a little time consuming, it is super easy to make and it is customizable to your liking! If you have a Sunday off and have some time to cook, I would recommend making it because it will last you for a few days! (Unless you have a large hammer thrower boyfriend who eats for 5)

Sorry for the really long post and I hope you found it somewhat helpful or insightful!
I hope to do more healthy recipes soon!

Thanks for reading :)


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