Monday, December 26, 2011

Jen's Lasagna

My husband requests every year that I make my lasagna for our Christmas Eve dinner. I usually make it early in the morning so I can just pop it in the oven for dinner and not have to worry about making a huge mess in the kitchen. I prefer to spend my time with my family, watching Christmas movies and snuggling :) Here's my "healthier" lasagna, I hope you enjoy it!

Jen's Lasagna
Serves 8

1 lb lean ground beef*
1 lb Italian chicken sausage, casing removed, and crumbled*
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced (optional)
1- 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil (or about 1 T fresh, chopped)
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley, divided (or about 2 tsp fresh, chopped)
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 jar favorite pasta sauce (about 24 oz)
1 T granulated sugar
1- 16 oz container fat-free ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup reduced-fat grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2-4 cups 2 % reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles (about 13 oz)

* Can use 2 lbs of ground beef or 2 lbs of chicken sausage instead

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lean hamburger and chicken sausage and cook for about 5 minutes. Add diced onion and zucchini to the meat and continue to cook until meat is thoroughly cooked through. Drain if needed.

Add diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, 1/2 teaspoon of the parsley, about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or basically to taste), and fresh ground black pepper, to taste, if desired. Mix well and simmer on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.

Then add the jar of pasta sauce and the sugar. Stir and let simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat a large pasta pot with water to a boil. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Add lasagna noodles and cook for about half the amount of time recommended on the box (probably 5 minutes total). Drain.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, blend together the ricotta cheese, remaining 1 teaspoon parsley, egg, and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle in about a teaspoon of olive oil, and add salt to taste to the cheese; mix well.

To assemble: Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and lay 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise in the pan, overlapping the sides.
Next, use about a third of the ricotta mixture and spread evenly on the noodles. Then sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese on top of the ricotta. Then spoon about a third of the meat mixture on top of the mozzarella. Then sprinkle another 1/2 cup of the mozzarella on top of the meat (optional--add if you want the lasagna to be extra cheesy!).

Repeat layers two more times, ending with a good sprinkling of mozzarella on top of the meat and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and then allow to cook for another 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

(This lasagna can be made ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap, and replace with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove foil, and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or so until hot and bubbling.)

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