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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Lasagna Day is Coming!

Posted by Jenna Smith - Holidays

This July 29th we celebrate an Italian classic: Happy National Lasagna Day all you lasagna lovers. A cheesy, gooey pan of carbs is what makes this meal a favorite of all ages. The ingredients are simple, inexpensive, and feeds an army, making the whole family happy.

Lasagna begins with the flat-shaped pasta. Of course, nothing can beat homemade pasta, but let's get real; there's not always time for that, which brings me to the no-boil (oven ready) versus boil debate. No-boil pasta is precooked in the factory and designed to go straight into the pan, rehydrating with the sauce of the lasagna. Boiled pasta is the traditional method and the only method up until the 1990's. But many expert chefs actually prefer the taste of no-boil lasagna, saying they're thinner in texture and yield a less watery dish. So why not go with the time saver? Plus, buy the whole wheat no-boil pasta, and you'll get more nutrients.

The sauce is easy to make yourself with just a can of tomato paste or sauce, a can of tomatoes and seasonings. Homemade sauce can help lower the sodium content. The cheese and meat are the naughty but delicious culprits. Skip the meat and go for veggies and use low-fat cheese to save on calories and saturated fat.

Spinach Lasagna

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed

½ large onion, chopped

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15 oz.) can no-added-salt tomato sauce

1 (15 oz.) can no-added-salt diced tomatoes

1 cup water

2 cups 1% cottage cheese

1 (8 oz.) package part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 egg

8 oz. whole wheat no-boil lasagna pasta

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add spinach onion, oregano, basil and garlic over medium heat. Pour in tomato sauce, tomatoes, and water; simmer 20 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together cheeses, parsley, pepper, and egg. Place a small amount of spaghetti sauce mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place one layer of uncooked pasta on top of sauce. Add layer of sauce and layer of cheese mixture. Place another layer of uncooked pasta and repeat until all is layered, finishing with sauce. Cover with aluminum foil; bake in oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil; bake another 15 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 200 calories, 6 grams fat, 340 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 15 grams protein

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