2011-05-26 / Family

A Less Indulgent Lasagne

Lasagne is a dish many people associate with indulgence. A big plate of lasagne can be delicious, but many people feel it’s a comfort food that’s best enjoyed on a special occasion.

While there is not much men and women can do to lasagne to make it less filling, cooks do have lots of leeway with respect to this favorite food’s ingredients that can help make the dish a bit healthier. One way to lessen the lasagne load is to go easy on the meat and bigger on the vegetables.

Though not low in calories or low in fat, the following recipe for “Vegetable Ragu Lasagne” from Joy Manning and Tara MatarazaDesmond’s “Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet” (Ten Speed Press) is delicious and filled with nutrient-rich vegetables, helping lasagne lovers feel less guilty about dining and ensuring they get their serving of vegetables.

Vegetable Ragu Lasagne Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 carrots cut into 1/4-inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper
6 ounces ground turkey thigh
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes 3 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach,
defrosted and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
cheese (3 ounces)
1 9-ounce box no-boil lasagne noodles (12 noodles)
11/4 cups grated mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

To prepare the sauce:

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a heavy Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 40 minutes and up to 1 hour, until the vegetables are very soft and turning brown. (If your vegetables seem to be browning too quickly, turn the heat down.) Transfer the vegetables to a plate and set aside. Add the ground turkey to the pan and let sit for 2 minutes to brown before stirring and breaking up the meat, for 2 to 3 more minutes, until cooked through. Return the vegetables to the pan and combine with the turkey. Add the tomatoes, crushed by hand or pulsed with a stick blender, and simmer for 10 minutes.

To prepare the ricotta mixture:

While the vegetables are cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, spinach, garlic, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagne:

Brush a 9-by-13-inch pan with oil. Start building the lasagne with a layer of about 1 cup sauce, followed by three noodles, spaced an inch apart. Layer about a quarter of the ricotta mixture on the noodles, followed by 1/4 cup of mozzarella. Build three more layers, with a final layer of noodles, sauce and a generous 1/2 cup mozzarella on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes, broiling for the last few minutes if you like a browned crust. Let the lasagne sit for 20 minutes before serving.

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