Veggie Lasagna

 So you’re trying to lose weight and it feels like everything you want to eat is off-limits. Maybe you’ll force feed yourself through another meal, but let’s be honest, there’s no way you’re going six more days before your next cheat meal. Well today, help is on the way! And it’s name is veggie lasagna. Yes, it’s cheesy! Yes, it’s baked! And guess what? Yes, it’s healthy too!

You all know how big I am on protein. When you diet, it’s so easy to lose muscle. When you lose muscle, you’re defeating the purpose of a diet – to look good and be healthy. So I’ve searched long and hard for recipes that contain muscle-saving protein. I was thrilled when I found out lasagna is one of them! It’s a surprisingly low-cal meal, but with so many sources of dairy, it ends up with a great calorie-to-protein ratio.

Nutrition:

Just to highlight that “healthy” part, here are some nutritonal facts about this recipe:

  • 360 Calories per piece
  • 27 grams of protein (yes, that’s per piece)
  • Huge amounts of calcium

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 24.oz Jar Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 1 Squash
  • 7-8 Mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. Bag of Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 15oz. Container of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried Oregano
  • Block of Parmesan Cheese(optional)

Method:

      1. Dice the onion, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. Transfer to a medium cooking pan.
      2. Preheat oven to 375oF. Pour olive oil on the vegetables and cook on medium heat until au par(partially soft). Mix in two teaspoons of garlic powder with the vegetables.
      3. Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way with water. Bring water to a boil. Separately, pour pasta sauce into a medium-sized sauce pan and warm on medium-low heat. If desired, adjust sauce with garlic and oregano.
      4. Place pasta noodles in boiling water. Cook until al dente(soft, but retaining texture), then drain in a collinder.
      5. Mix an egg into the ricotta cheese until the yolk is no longer visibly separate from the cheese.
      6. Pull out an 8x13in. baking pan. Start by covering the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of pasta sauce. Then, place three noodles on top to form the first layer. Cover noodles with half of the ricotta cheese, vegetables, mozzarella cheese, and sauce – spreading each so as to completely cover the preceding layer. Place three more noodles on top, and then repeat by adding the remaining vegetables, ricotta, and pasta sauce. The mozzarella cheese will form the very top layer. Spread the remaining half of mozzarella on top of the pasta sauce. If desired, grate a tablespoon or two of Parmesan cheese onto the mozzarella. Sprinkle a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of oregano over the mozzarella cheese.
      7. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil. Cover lightly, so as not to touch the aluminum foil to the lasagna.
      8. Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Afterward, remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
      9. Allow lasagna to cool, then cut and serve.

Notes:

Homemade Pasta Noodles & Sauce. I’m a big fan of anything homemede, both for the improved taste and health benefits. Still, for most cooks, this recipe is involved as it is. However, if you would like to make your own pasta and/or sauce, go for it! Check back for my own pasta and sauce recipes later!

Filling. My recipe uses a variety of vegetables and cheeses as filling for the lasagna. However, lasagna can be stuffed with all sorts of things. If you have a favorite ingredient, feel free to toss it in!

Cooking the vegetables. Most recipes don’t call for cooking the vegetables before you put them into the lasagna. However, in my experience, vegetables come out undercooked if they are not pre-cooked before going into the oven. As always, use your own results to decide. If your vegetables seem overcooked when your lasagna is finished, try not pre-cooking them the next time around. As a variation of cooking the vegetables, you could also consider roasting them in the oven.

Aluminum Foil. This step DOES matter. If you forget the aluminum foil, your cheese is bound to come out an unappealing shade of brown. So for both aesthetic and taste purposes, cover your lasagna with foil! On the other hand, if your cheese does not cook enough, try pulling the foil off a few minutes sooner. If the cheese sticks to your foil, you pressed the foil down too hard, causing it to actually touch the lasagna

Prep: 30 Min.   Cook: 45 Min.   Serves: 8

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