By Maris Callahan
It’s the winter and it’s January. When the temperatures drop we tend to crave warmth: comforting soups, thick stews, and baked pastas dripping with cheese and chunks of juicy tomatoes.
However, in January, freshly committed to our New Year’s resolution to lose those last 10 pounds, our minds tell us to avoid baked pastas dripping with cheese in favor of lighter soups, salads, and lean proteins.
Guess what? This year, you can have your cake and eat it too. Metaphorically, of course. If lasagna is your grim weather go-to dinner, you can make a lighter version that skips calorie-dense meats and sausages and omits the creamy ricotta cheese that helps pile on the pounds.
Omitting some of the more indulgent ingredients not only eliminates fat and calories, but it reduces the number of steps and amount of preparation time for the recipe. To begin this lasagna recipe, you’ll toss sliced vegetables with olive oil and roast them until just tender. Then, layer them between the no-boil noodles, mozzarella cheese, and your favorite savory marinara.
While the lasagna bakes, toss together a few cups of crisp romaine lettuce and a few of your favorite colorful vegetables to serve alongside dinner. If you’re feeling adventurous, pour yourself a glass heart-healthy red wine to sip on the side.
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3 tbsp olive oil
3 small zucchini, sliced into coins
3 small yellow summer squash, sliced into coins
1/2 lb medium fresh mushrooms, cut into 1/4″ slices
2 cups fresh baby spinach
3 cups marinara sauce either homemade or your favorite jarred version
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles opt for fresh pasta, if possible
2 cups shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place zucchini and yellow squash slices on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When vegetables are tender and beginning to brown around the edges, remove from the oven and set aside.
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are slightly tender and beginning to brown. Add spinach for the last two minutes of cooking and remove from heat when the leaves begin to wilt.
Step 3: Spread 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom of 13″x9″ baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles and follow with a layer of zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and spinach. Top with 1/3 of the cheese and 1/2 cup of sauce. Repeat three times, or until you reach the top of your dish.
Step 4: Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer, or until edges are bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
About the Author:
Maris Callahan is the author of In Good Taste, an avid self-taught home cook, and is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping new cooks learn how to prepare healthy, delicious meals and snacks, even when life is busy. She believes in Ghirardelli chocolate, farmer’s markets and cooking from scratch when possible. When she is not in the kitchen working on her next recipe, Maris works as a marketing professional in Chicago and in her spare time, contributes to several websites including SheKnows.com, Diets In Review and Shape.com.