We all know that at the end of a long week sometimes we just want comfort food. And we definitely want to treat ourselves to something delicious… But at the same time we’re afraid of totally going off the rails. So we thought about the concept of fearless Fridays. Giving you a recipe from time to time thats a healthier alternative to comfort food. It doesn’t have to be the healthiest meal in the world, but we are striving to make better choices. So here’s our first attempt at a healthier weekend meal. It takes some time to make so it’s perfect for Fridays or Saturdays with friends.
It was as good a lasagna as any I’ve ever had. I know it is hard to believe, but I swear it’s true. In place of pasta sheets, we use eggplant sliced in 1/4 inch slices length-wise. A mandolin is ideal in order to get even slices, but you can eye-ball it with a knife. This is a take on a recipe I found online.
The meat in the lasagna is ground turkey and chicken. You can use one or both, but I wanted the depth of flavor that the combination would provide. You can use turkey or chicken sausage as well if you want. A quick note on ground turkey: always check the fat % on the package. Turkey that is 85/15 (15% fat) is as bad as eating ground beef. A 99% or “fat-free” turkey is ideal, but it is super dry. I usually use a 93/7 blend which is still healthy and reasonable.
This is NOT one of our weekly go-to dishes mainly because I use a good deal of cheese (even though they are all fat-free or 2% milk cheese). Also, it is not as packed with vegetables as I normally like. But the true genius of this dish is that you don’t use any spaghetti sauce. The sauce is comprised of all ground turkey/chicken and a combination of red wine, tomato paste, and a small can of Rottela. In other words, you are saving the 100-plus grams of sugar contained on Prego or Ragu. Add to that the absence of any pasta, and you have a relatively healthy, very low-carb lasagna that you can make as a “weekend cheat” dish. As I always do, I will eventually find a way to add a lot of veggies to this dish and make it even healthier, but I didn’t want to go crazy on my first attempt and risk watering-down the lasagna. One of the keys to a good lasagna is that it can stand on its own after plating. This lasagna did so in large part because it was not overly-sauced, but it still had an awesome saucy taste inside of the ground meats.
- 2 large eggplants, peeled, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch noodle-like strips
- cooking spray (olive oil spray is best)
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin or 1 lb ground turkey breast and 1 lb ground chicken (or 2 pounds of your favorite)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 (16 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons italian seasoning (or mix of oregano, basil and thyme)
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you dare!) (optional)
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 small can of Rotelle tomato sauce
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (for less sugar, 3 chopped tomatoes)
- 2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups shredded lowfat mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2Spray cookie sheet, arrange eggplant slices and season with salt and pepper.
3Cook slices 5 minutes on each side.
4Lower oven temp to 375.
5Brown meat, season with salt, pepper, and Italian Seasonings and place in a bowl.
6Add red pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil until cooked (don’t forget to season).
7Add spinach, season, and cook for 5-10 minutes. Please DRAIN any excess liquids!!!!!
8Add the meat to the mixture and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and red wine. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Blend ricotta, egg and onion mixture in a bowl. Spray cooking spray in bottom of 9” x 13” glass pan. You can use a smaller pan for a taller lasagna.
10Layer ½ eggplant slices, ricotta, meat, mozzarella and parmesan.
12Add last layer of sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan on top.
13Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
14Remove foil and bake or broil another 5-10 minutes until cheese is browned.
15Let it rest 10 minutes before slicing, if you can wait that long!