Let’s talk about lasagna for a second.. It is, traditionally, a comfort food. It’s not always healthy. And it tastes delicious. I don’t make lasagna all that often…but when I do, I always try to make it healthier with a couple of changes:
- I look for a sauce that it low in sodium, or I make my own sauce by using no-salt-added crushed tomatoes and adding garlic and italian spices.
- I ALWAYS add extra vegetables. I mix them right into the sauce. Fresh, frozen…doesn’t matter. Whatever you have on hand.
- I add a lean protein. When I ate meat, it was usually ground turkey. Now that I don’t, I use white beans or lentils. I mix them right into the sauce as well.
- I use part skim ricotta, and I add frozen spinach to it (more veggies!)
- I use low-fat and limit the amount of mozzarella cheese I use.
This weekend I tried something different. I made lasagna in the crockpot. And it worked like a charm! I used regular lasagna noodles and didn’t cook them beforehand. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical that they would cook, but they did!
- 1 jar pasta sauce (24-32 oz)
- 2½ c cooked lentils
- 2½ c mixed vegetables (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- black pepper, to taste
- 1- 16 oz tub part skim ricotta
- 1 c frozen spinach (defrosted & squeezed to remove water)
- 2 Tbsp pesto
- 9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
- 1 c shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- In a bowl, mix together the pasta sauce, vegetables, lentils, garlic and oregano.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta and pesto.
- Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of the crockpot.
- Break 3 lasagna noodles to fit in the crockpot.
- Top with some of the ricotta mixture, sauce and a little mozz cheese.
- Repeat 2 more times.
- Cook on low for 4 hours or until noodles and vegetables reach desired tenderness.
Easy peasy. Comfort food at its finest…and healthified to boot!
A word of warning. Some of the moisture from the sauce is absorbed to cook the noodles, so this lasagna may not have as much sauce as you’re used to. I personally like mine with less sauce, but I left a bit of sauce in the jar when I made the lasagna and then I just heated it up and added it to the top of my hubby’s before serving because he likes his with more sauce than I do.
Also, please note that you don’t have to use all the ricotta cheese mixture. I’m not a huge ricotta fan so I usually only use about 2/3 of it. Perfectly acceptable.