Losing lasagna's fat and loving it Trim: Spencer Christian's favorite recipe, already lean, gets a little more help on morning television show. 'Truly delicious,' he says.

September 30, 1998|By Patsy Jamieson | Patsy Jamieson,EATING WELL

Several years ago, I was challenged to revamp the favorite family recipes of each of the hosts on ABC's "Good Morning America." Working out a delicious low-fat version of a recipe in the test kitchen is one thing, but demonstrating it to the host on live national television is quite another!

I have to admit that Spencer Christian's recipe for a classic, homey lasagna really had me puzzled at first. It wasn't because it was so laden with fatty ingredients that I couldn't imagine how to make it healthy, but because it was already pretty lean - at least as lasagnas go. Spencer's recipe used ground turkey rather than beef and part-skim instead of whole-milk ricotta. In spite of that, a serving packed a hefty 550 calories and 22 grams of fat. It did need help.

I first reduced the quantity of ground meat considerably, stretching it with mushrooms, adding fresh vegetables and using lower-fat cheese. I was able to cut the fat more than 50 percent and create a lasagna that made Spencer gush.

"This is truly delicious - and I don't say I like things on the air if I don't like them," he said.

Classic Lasagna With Meat Sauce


1/2 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

2 onions, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup dry red wine

2 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), slivered

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste


12 curly-edged lasagna noodles (12 ounces)

2 cups nonfat ricotta cheese

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

ground nutmeg to taste

1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up clumps with a spoon, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add vTC onions and carrot; cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushroom liquid evaporates, 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir in wine, plum tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme and crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is very thick, 30 to 45 minutes more. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

To make filling and assemble lasagna:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or coat it with nonstick spray.

Cook noodles in the boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, then cool by plunging noodles into a large bowl of ice-cold water. Lay noodles out on kitchen towels.

Season ricotta with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Spread about 1 1/2 cups meat sauce in prepared pan. Layer 3 noodles on top. Spread another 1 cup sauce over noodles. Dot about b cup ricotta over sauce, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Continue layering noodles, sauce and cheeses, finishing with sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley and cover with foil.

Bake lasagna for 35 to 40 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling. Uncover and bake until golden, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 390 calories, 28 grams protein, 8 grams fat (2.4 grams saturated fat), 56 grams carbohydrate; 595 milligrams sodium; 16 milligrams cholesterol; 4 grams fiber.

Pub Date: 9/30/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.