Fierce Foodie: Not as Naughty Lasagna
Good lasagna is a demanding mistress. She will slide down your throat and have you in a food coma by the end of the evening. She knows you can’t say no to her layers of noodles and melted cheese. Her creamy ricotta filling beckons seductively.
I fell in love with lasagna at an early age. It instantly seemed to me a perfect food; the layers of noodles and cheese and sauce perfectly satisfied my cravings for salt and fat and carbohydrate. I especially coveted the corner pieces where the noodles had gotten crispy at the edges. Those hardened bits were my favorite part, aside from the creamy ricotta cheese, and I was not above tearing them off and popping them in my mouth before any one sat down to dinner.
Making lasagna is deceptive in its simplicity. It is too often dry and crusty or wet and sloppy. I myself have been a victim of lasagna soup, and have since learned to follow directions. Finding a healthier version of lasagna has been a great hope of mine, but difficult as I refuse to take part in anything using fake cheese. In the following recipe vegetables take the place of meat, adding filling fiber to the wonder of noodles and cheese.
HG’s Ez Cheesy Lasagna for Two
From the Kitchen of Lisa Lillien
Cook Time: 30-60 min
Two 1/4-inch-thick eggplant slices (cut lengthwise from a long eggplant), patted dry
1 egg white or 2 tbsp. liquid egg whites
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese (or alternative below)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Additional salt, black pepper, to taste
2 sheets oven-ready lasagna noodles (like the kind by Barilla)
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spritz both sides of each eggplant slice with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through, until browned and softened.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine egg white(s), ricotta cheese, basil, garlic, salt, and nutmeg. Stir well and set aside.
Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat on the stove. Add mushrooms and, stirring occasionally, cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir mushrooms into ricotta mixture and set aside.
Add Italian seasoning to crushed tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Spray a large loaf pan (about 9″ X 5″) with nonstick spray. Pour 1/4 cup tomatoes evenly into the bottom of the pan. Top with 1 lasagna sheet. Spread half of the ricotta-mushroom mixture on top, followed by another 1/4 cup tomatoes. Top with 1 eggplant slice.
Repeat layering with 1/4 cup tomatoes, 1 lasagna sheet, remaining ricotta-mushroom mixture, remaining 1/4 cup tomatoes, and remaining eggplant slice.
Evenly top with mozzarella and grated topping. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese starts to brown. Serve and enjoy!
featured image credit: The_Smiths