My friend Joy, who is an actual Italian, has a fantastic lasagna recipe that deserves to be shared. This is definitely not a diet meal – BUT – I do make a few healthier substitutions. Sure, it might only save you a few calories and fat grams, but as long as you aren’t sacrificing flavor, there’s no reason not to.
I’m going to give you her exact recipe and then include my tips and suggestions in blue – I think her version is amazing, but it’s pretty rare that I don’t change something in almost any recipe I make.
- 12 oz lasagna pasta, cooked (Any time I choose pasta, for anything, I try to get a healthier version – I usually pick the Barilla Plus because it has fiber and protein, but they don’t make lasagna noodles. I did find one that was similar though – it pays to read the back of the box!)
- 15 oz Italian tomato sauce (I actually bought two cans and ended up using both – I guess it would depend on your tastes – I’ll explain later how I used the extra can.)
- 1 lb Italian sausage (spicy or mild), cooked
- 1 clove of garlic (or to taste) (I have never, ever used only one clove of garlic for anything – I use 3 for this particular recipe.)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (I’ve now used both a ball of high-quality mozzarella that I sliced, and low-moisture, part-skim, pre-shredded – I’d love to say I could taste a definite difference – I couldn’t.)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 15 oz ricotta cheese (I promise that you will not be able to tell the difference with low-fat/part-skim on this either – but I probably wouldn’t go for fat free.)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 baking dish with olive oil.
Combine ricotta cheese and the next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Start water to boil, for pasta.
Saute’ sausage with garlic (I add the garlic only when the sausage is almost done, to prevent burning) in a hot skillet (remove the skins before cooking). Chop sausage into bite size pieces. (I do this in the pan with my wooden spoon – our grocery stores have ground sausage that you buy just like hamburger meat – but you can do the same thing with linked sausage after the skins are removed – you get a greater crispy-surface-area that way – yum!) Combine sausage with tomato sauce (just use one can – I save the other for later) and simmer.
Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Turn off sauce.
Layer sauce (this is where that extra can comes in handy – I put a thin layer of plain sauce on the bottom of the pan, then use it to supplement the sausage/sauce by drizzling a little where it looks sparse, and then again, use it plain, for the last layer.) lasagna and ricotta cheese mixture, then sauce/sausage, mozzerella cheese (make sure you use it sparingly so you have plenty for the top), lasagna, ricotta and so on. Repeat layers until you have desired amount (I prefer 3-4 layers). Your final layer will be lasagna, then tomato sauce with slices/shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, cover and bake for 20 minutes (After 20 minutes, I uncover it and flip the oven to Broil and let it get all bubbly – just don’t leave – it only takes a few minutes!)
Enjoy with salad and garlic bread or bread sticks.
I would consider this recipe about a Medium on difficulty, only because you have a few things going at once. But after only making it twice, I’ve already figured out a good rhythm and managed to get everything done and on the table in just under an hour. Not too shabby considering it takes over an hour to cook a Stouffers frozen-version.