Healthy Vegetable Lasagna

Spring, where art thou? Today in NYC I woke up to ice-covered steps and snow-dusted cars on my street. Just 48 hours ago I was blissfully prancing around Central Park in a tank top. Mother Nature. Wake up, it is spring. Embrace it. Due to the chilly weather, my recipe idea for today changed. Somehow a picnic-themed dish didn’t seem appropriate as I don my puffer coat, for the billionth time this year, but hey, who’s bitter? This recipe is both comforting and warm, yet light enough to keep you feeling healthy and in shape for shorts season, should it ever decide to grace us with its presence.

Traditional lasagna can be very heavy and low in vitamins. I’ve lightened it up by replacing traditional full fat ricotta cheese with cottage cheese and cramming in tons of healthy vegetables. I’ve also omitted the traditional meat sauce in favor of a veggie sauce. Not because I don’t support meat, I mostly just cannot afford to consume it on my starting-salary income. Hence, healthy flavorful vegetable lasagna!

Healthy Veggie Lasagna. Serves 6.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
16 oz cottage cheese (I used non fat/ low sodium)
10 oz frozen broccoli florets, thawed, chopped, squeezed of excess moisture
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground mustard, optional
3/4 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella
3 cups baby spinach (or 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed
of excess moisture)
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
6 No Boil lasagna noodles

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
Add onion, 1/4 tsp salt/ pepper and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.
Add garlic, cook for another 1 minute but do not let garlic burn (it can happen fast). Add parsley. Remove from heat.
Blend cottage cheese and broccoli in food processor or blender until smooth.
Transfer broccoli mixture to bowl and add parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, oregano, ground mustard, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 tsp salt/ pepper and spinach.
In separate bowl, mix marinara sauce with sautéed onion mixture.

In an 8-inch baking dish (or 2 loaf pans if you’re cooking for two, which is what I did so I didn’t have to cook it all at once. Genius. Just halve the following amounts):

Spread 1/2 cup marina on bottom.
Top with two noodles.
Cover with 1/2 cup marina.
Spread half of broccoli mixture.
Top with two noodles.
Cover with 1/2 cup marina.
Then remaining broccoli.
Add two more noodles.
Top with remaining marinara, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese
(maybe another few dashes of parmesan cheese for good measure).

Either bake or freeze at this point. If freezing, cover tightly first with plastic wrap then foil to prevent freezer burn. When ready to eat, allow to thaw in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 425.
Cook at 425 for 35 minutes total, the first 20 minutes covered in foil, the remaining 15 minutes uncovered.

Curious about the nutrition facts? Of course you are. Per serving:
250 calories, 7 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber. Lots of Vitamin C, K, calcium, and folate from the broccoli and spinach; sulfur, an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen from the onions and garlic; anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat from the olive oil. Enjoy!

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