[Photograph: Kristen Swensson Sturt]
This Valentine's Day, instead of blowing big bucks on a restaurant meal, why not pour a big ol' glass of red wine and whip up this lightened version of Better Homes and Gardens' Spinach Lasagna? It has all the cheesy goodness of regular spinach lasagna, minus a few extra calories.
While the original lasagna recipe wasn't terribly unhealthy, I knew it could be lightened fairly easily with a few natural substitutions. So, I used olive oil instead of margarine for sautéing, and cut the amount in half. For a binder, two whole eggs became three egg whites. Lastly and most significantly, part-skim ricotta and mozzarella were substituted for their full-fat counterparts.
In the end, the final numbers looked like this:
Original Spinach Lasagna: 455 calories, 19 g fat, 3 g fiber, 22 g protein
Lighter Spinach Lasagna: 324 calories, 12.5 g fat, 3.4 g fiber, 18.9 g protein
(Note: The first calculations come from Better Homes. The second numbers are my own, and are approximate.)
Granted, each serving lost a tiny bit of protein, but not enough to be truly significant. As for the flavor, you'd never know anything was cut. To chop the fat and calories even more, you may be tempted to use fat-free cheese. A few words of caution: Don't do that. Fat-free frommage doesn't melt well, and the list of added chemicals and preservatives sounds like something the Pentagon and Kremlin fought over in the 1970s.
Happy Valentine's Day, Serious Eaters. Hope it's full of love and spinach.
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:65 minutes
- 9 dried lasagna noodles
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and very well drained
- 1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta
- 1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 24-ounce jar your favorite meatless pasta sauce
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot or Dutch oven, boil lasagna noodles in salted water until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion and mushrooms until soft. Add garlic and saute an additional 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant. Add roasted red peppers and heat through. Kill heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Squeeze spinach of excess water and pat with paper towels. Add to a mixing bowl, along with ricotta, mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg whites, basil, oregano, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add mushroom mixture. Stir to combine.
Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Layer with 3 lasagna noodles placed side-by-side lengthwise. Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture evenly on noodles. Layer with a little less than 1 cup pasta sauce. Layer again with 3 more noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, a little less than 1 cup pasta sauce, and last 3 noodles. Spread remaining pasta sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes, to firm up. Serve.