Reduce fat and calories, but keep the lasagna

June 05, 1996|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

If you gave up eating old-fashioned, deep-dish Italian lasagna because of the fat and calories, try this delicious, vegetarian lasagna primavera. This ample Italian casserole is packed with flavor, yet each substantial serving has just 3 grams of fat. The secret? It's made with just three teaspoons of added olive oil and uses low-fat dairy products.

Lasagna primavera

Makes 12 servings

NOODLE LAYER:

12 ounces (16 sheets) lasagna noodles, cooked and drained according to package instructions

nonstick cooking spray

SPINACH LAYER:

1 (16-ounce) bag frozen leaf spinach, thawed and drained

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

3 cloves garlic, crushed through a press (about 1 teaspoon)

2 green onions, chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

MUSHROOM LAYER:

2 cups sliced button mushrooms

1 (6-ounce) package portobello mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed through a press

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1 (7-ounce) jar roasted, peeled fancy Italian sweet red peppers, drained and chopped

RICOTTA LAYER:

1 (15-ounce) container low-fat ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

TOMATO LAYER:

2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans peeled, chopped tomatoes, Italian recipe or plain

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1/2 teaspoon sugar

TOPPING:

2 cups low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or coat two 8-by-8-by-2 1/4 -inch baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside while preparing vegetable layers.

Remove the cooked lasagna noodles from the boiling water and place them on a baking sheet between layers of wax paper or aluminum foil. The wax paper or foil will keep the noodles from sticking to each other.

To prepare the spinach layer, squeeze any excess water out of the spinach. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Saute the spinach, onion, garlic and green onions over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the salt, thyme leaves, nutmeg and black pepper. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

To prepare the mushroom layer, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the same 12-inch nonstick skillet. Saute the button mushrooms and the portobello mushrooms over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the mushrooms are dark and all the moisture has evaporated. Stir in the garlic, salt and Italian herb seasoning and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chopped, peeled, roasted red pepper and allow to cool while preparing the remaining layers.

To prepare the ricotta layer, stir together the low-fat ricotta cheese, nutmeg and Parmesan until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

To prepare the tomato layer, stir together the peeled, chopped tomatoes, the Italian herb seasoning and the sugar. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna, cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 3 or 4 cooked noodles. Spoon approximately half of the tomato layer over the noodles, then spread the spinach layer over the tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.

Layer more cooked noodles over the mozzarella cheese and spread the mushrooms and red pepper on top. Layer 3 or 4 more noodles on top and spread the ricotta mixture on top. Cover with remaining noodles. Spoon remaining tomatoes over the noodles and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until brown on top and bubbling. Allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.

The lasagna can be prepared up to three days in advance and reheated for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350-degree oven before serving. It can also be frozen for up to 12 weeks. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot.

Per serving: calories, 154; protein, 8 g; carbohydrate, 23 g; fat, 3 g (18 percent of calories from fat); cholesterol, 0.8 mg; sodium, 513 mg

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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