Fresh Simple and Luscious Lasagna

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Lasagna can seem like a pain to make, but really it’s so easy and really worth it. This recipe is special because it gets its great flavors from an array of vegetables, fresh parsley and sausage. It’s not too high in calories and fat as I used very few noodles, part-skim ricotta cheese and just a small amount of shredded cheese for such a large dish. If you don’t prefer sausage, use lean ground beef or ground turkey. You can make this recipe ahead. It’s perfect for company or for weeknight with leftovers for the next day.

 

Sausage-Vegetable Lasagna

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound mild or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

11/2 cups marinara sauce

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onions

1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

6 lasagna noodles, cooked

11/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

Preparation

1. Saute first 5 ingredients in a large saute pan or Dutch oven in hot oil  over medium heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender; add mushrooms and continue to cook until sausage is browned. Add sauce and tomatoes; simmer 10 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese and parsley, stirring well.

3. Layer lasagna noodles, sausage mixture and ricotta mixture in a 13- x 9-inch lightly greased baking dish; repeat with remaining layers ending with sauce. Top with shredded cheese. 

4. Bake at 375F, covered 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Low-Fat, Low-Calorie Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Low-fat, low-calorie manicotti? Is that possible? With only 325 calories and 8.5 grams of fat, I can say, yes, that is possible. This combination of lean ground beef, fat-free ricotta, egg white and fresh herbs creates a delicious and easy manicotti recipe. I developed this recipe for Laura’s Lean Beef Company a few years ago, and it has been a family staple for a few years. Feel free to use ground turkey or pork instead of beef if you choose. Also, you can prepare it a day ahead and bake it the next day.

 

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) package manicotti

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) container fat-free ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 egg white

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Preparation

1. Cook manicotti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic 5 minutes or until meat is browned; drain and let cool slightly.

3. Combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and next 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the meat mixture and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon 1/2 cup marinara sauce in a lightly greased 13-x 9-inch baking dish. Fill manicotti shells with the meat mixture and arrange in a single layer in prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and is heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.