I love Italian cuisine. The cheesy traditional dishes make my mouth water – fettuccine alfredo, ravioli, pizza, and all the rest. I don’t think I’ve ever had an Italian meal that I didn’t like.
Unfortunately, although most Italian dishes are loaded with flavor, they are also loaded with fat and calories. This recipe is a healthy, vegetarian take on traditional lasagna. It’s laden with the same delicious taste as the original, but with much less fat and more healthier ingredients (like veggies). It’s not a “vegetable lasagna,” as those (while still being quite good) usually don’t taste like “real” lasagna. This recipe strives to taste like the real thing, just healthier.
I’m not a big meat eater in the first place, so I don’t miss the beef usually used in lasagna. If you absolutely must have meat, though, you could try adding in a few ounces of lean ground beef to the sauce while it’s cooking. Don’t use a lot – just a little will give you that meaty taste and some meat chunks to chew on.
Enjoy this nutritious, easy, inexpensive, flavorful Italian meal!
Wholesome Chunky Lasagna
You will need:
- 1 box whole wheat lasagna
- 1 28-ounce can plain tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups frozen spinach
- 4 tsp. garlic powder (divided)
- 4 tsp. parsley (divided)
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ¼ tsp. basil
- 1 32-ounce container fat free or part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 16-ounce (1 pound) block of part skim mozzarella cheese (divded)
- ½ cup skim milk
- Large pot
- Large saucepan
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 9×13 baking dishes
(Click here for a printable PDF version of this recipe!)
First, gather your ingredients together and preheat the oven to 350°.
Boil a large pot of water on the stove, and cook the lasagna according to the time listed on the box.
In a large saucepan, add the can of tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. parsley, onion powder, oregano, and basil. Mix together well, and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, add the frozen spinach and stir well to mix. Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes.
While the lasagna noodles and sauce are cooking, grate the block of mozzarella cheese and divide it into approximately one 3 cup and two 1 cup piles. Dump the container of ricotta cheese, the 3 cup pile of mozzarella cheese, milk, 2 tsp. garlic powder, and 2 tsp. parsley into the large mixing bowl, and stir well to combine.
When the pasta is done cooking, drain it with a colander, and then lightly grease both 9×13 baking dishes. Now, it’s time to make the lasagna! Start with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of one of the baking dishes.
Now add a layer of noodles…
…then a layer of the ricotta cheese mixture.
Repeat once more: sauce layer, noodle layer, ricotta cheese layer. Next, spread out one final layer of sauce, then sprinkle 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese on the top.
Repeat the process with the other baking dish. (When making both pans, be careful how much sauce and ricotta cheese you put down for each layer! You will need 6 layers of sauce and 4 layers of ricotta cheese in all, so plan ahead – don’t use up most of the sauce or cheese on the first pan and then not have enough to finish the second!)
Bake in the oven for ½ hour, or until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese on top is browned.
Now, if you’re like me, you usually don’t have to feed enough people at once to warrant baking both pans of lasagna at a time. If that is the case, don’t bake one of the pans and instead freeze it for another day! To freeze, cover tightly with foil and put a rubber band around both ends to hold it in place. This keeps well for months, and is perfect for a day you don’t have time to make a meal. Just uncover it and pop it straight into the oven from the freezer, baking 1 to 1½ hours until bubbly and browned on top.
Each pan should hold about 8 servings of lasagna, making 16 servings out of this recipe in total. Relish in this guilt-free Italian dish, and let me know what you think in the comments section!