I'm not a big pasta fan. The name Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill doesn't really get me excited for pasta. I'm more of a pizza girl. When I think thin crust pizza, light on the cheese, lots of marinara sauce and loads of veggies...my mouth starts watering....yummmmmm.
But enough about me. For all the pasta lovers out there, I have created a healthy (yes, you heard me right) lasagna. I love cooking for Karel and I love trying new meal ideas. When I was heading to Wal-Mart for a few groceries on Friday afternoon I texted Karel if he wanted anything in particular for dinner. He will eat anything so I usually don't ask him what he wants but when I received the text "Lasanga" I started to cringe.
Lasanga!!!?? I knew this meal wouldn't be for me but I do not feed Karel foods that I wouldn't eat. I would not cook for him a high fat, high calorie and big portion meal even if he could get away with eating it all. I am all about showing people that meals can be healthy for everyone regardless of daily caloric requirements. I am always on a mission to take people's favorite foods and create a healthier recipe.
Because I didn't want the Lasanga noodles I created my own version (which Karel also enjoyed). So, for those looking to save a few calories but still want the texture of thick Lasagna you will really enjoy the last picture of my "noodle-free" Lasagna. We also had a nice salad with the lasagna.
And if the pictures don't do this meal justice, Karel had this to say as he was eating "This was the BEST meal you have EVER made. This is the best meal I have had in a long time." :)
*remember, I don't measure when I cook. So when preparing this meal prepare as much as you want but recognize your portion for that meal. You don't have to eat everything...even though this meal can't be any healthier! And after you have your portion, you will have leftovers! I created this recipe on my own so you can use whatever you want for the layers (ex. whatever veggies you want in the insides and if you choose, you can use real meat-I recommend a lean meat). Karel didn't mind another meat-free meal.
This meal took me about 20 min. to prepare. I let it cook for about 30 min. A bit long for me but during that time, I prepared a big salad. All ingredients are from Wal-Mart. I used two pans which were sprayed with olive oil spray. I pre-heated the oven to 375-degrees.
Veggies: Brocoli, onions, mushrooms, corn
Sauce: Marinara sauce
Meat: Vegetarian sausage, vegetarian meat crumbles, black bean and corn salsa.
Cheesy layer: Firm tofu, parmesean cheese, roasted pepper hummus, shredded cheddar and Mozzerella sliced cheese.
Noodles: Whole wheat Lasagna noodles
I absolutely LOVE these sausage links. Karel likes them too! I love cutting them up on my salad or with my eggs. I also used about a cup of my frozen vegetarian meat crumbles.
I ended up only using 6 noodles! I only did 3 layers and used 2 noodles on each layer.
According to the package, I boiled the noodles in water until softened and then when I was ready to start layering (when the veggies and meat were cooked) I drained the pot with the noodles.
This is the "meat" mixture. I added chili flakes and a little hot sauce. Also, a staple in most of our meals, I added salsa to the pan when the frozen meat was cooked. The sausage links are refrigerated so they didn't take long to cook.
The veggie mixture really made the lasagna thick. I rarely eat brocoli (unless I am with my mom, she loves it!) but I decided I needed to be add some green to my veggie mixture. The brocoli and corn was frozen so I heated those first. Then I added the fresh mushrooms and chopped onions.
If you have kids they will LOVE helping you with this part. And if you think you don't like Tofu, you won't even know it is in the meal. I decided to crumble up the tofu like ricotta cheese and that was a lot of fun. Then to spice it up, I added a spoonful of Hummus and a little parmesean cheese.
Now you start layering!!! I started with 2 noodles. I then used about 2 spoonfuls of marinara sauce to lightly cover the noodles. Then I put the meat on the sauce, then the tofu and then I piled up the veggies. Because I made two dishes, I used half of every mixture (veggies, meat and tofu) for the noodle-free version. After each layer was finished, I sprinkled a little shredded cheddar cheese (regular, not fat-free or reduced).
This was the noodle-free finished product before I put it in the oven. As you can see, I used the same layers (without noodles) and made sure I had the marinara sauce in there. I put 1/2 slice mozzerella cheese on top by splitting it into little pieces/strips.
This was the finished product of the pasta lovers HEALTHY lasagna. I used the other 1/2 slice mozerella cheese by tearing it into pieces and laying it on the top layer before I put it in the oven.