What would some of our favorite comfort food classics looks like if we asked a nutritionist to give them a makeover? In this series of recipes, you see how smart choices around vegetables, meats, and cheese make for a lighter, more nutritious take on everything from mac and cheese to meatloaf without ever compromising the flavor.
This lasagna tastes just like the classic, but it's packed with extra vegetables. Mushrooms are a nice addition to any meaty mixture because they mimic the texture and give off delicious meaty flavors just like the real thing. Adding a touch of soy sauce to the mushrooms and spinach helps boost the umami flavor even more.
Giving Lasagna a Nutritionist's Makeover
The whole-wheat noodles add earthy and nutty flavors that complement the mushroom-ground beef mixture. Not to mention whole-wheat noodles have additional fiber, which helps to keep us fuller for longer! Always remember that whole-wheat noodles soak up more sauce than the regular guys, so be prepared to use additional sauce here.
Speaking of sauce, I always grab the no-salt-added or low-sodium tomato products. Canned products tend to be filled with excess sodium since salt helps to preserve the product. I like to be in control of how much salt I am consuming by adding most of it myself. Ramping up your herbs will also lead to you using less salt in your recipes, too.
This recipe is perfect for making ahead and storing in the refrigerator until it's time to bake. It yields enough food to feed an army or to use the leftovers for lunches, making it the perfect family-friendly recipe. I personally love a meal that can stretch out to several meals throughout the week!
Meaty Mushroom Lasagna
Serves 8 to 12
dried whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 10 ounces)
lean ground beef
sweet or yellow onion, diced
cremini mushrooms, finely chopped in a food processor
packed baby spinach
2 (15-ounce) cans
no-salt-added tomato sauce
can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped and juices reserved
dried parsley, divided
kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons
freshly ground black pepper, divided
shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
eggs, lightly beaten
grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Coat a deep 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the onions and garlic to the same pot and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, spinach, and soy sauce and cook until the mushrooms release their moisture and spinach is wilted. Drain off any excess moisture and return the vegetables to the pan. Return the ground beef to the pot.
Add the tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes and their juices, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, basil, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the pepper and stir to combine. Cover and simmer over low heat until the flavors meld, 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, place the ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella, eggs, Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
Spread 1 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles in a single layer over the sauce down the length of the baking dish. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce over the noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the meat sauce and spread into an even layer. Starting with the noodles, repeat the layering two more times. Finish with the remaining 3 noodles, remaining meat sauce, and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top starts to brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Make ahead: The lasagna can be assembled the night before, covered, and refrigerated until ready to bake. I would recommend baking it within 24 hours of assembling it. Increase the covered bake time by 5 to 10 minutes.