Get Yourself a Plate, It’s Lasagna Day!
We love celebrating National Holidays at Key Nutrition, and today is one of our favorites. National Lasagna Day calls for indulging with this gooey, cheesy Italian pasta dish. However, we don’t want to over indulge too much. Read below for our tips and tricks to how to make the most out of your lasagna, or try out the recipe we included for vegan lasagna. You will be surprised how good it tastes!
Lowdown on Lasagna
If you aren’t the best with food terms and don’t remember what lasagna is, here is a quick refresher.
Lasagna is wide, flat pasta with squiggly ends. These noodles are layered with red sauce and cheese, such as mozzarella and/or ricotta and then baked in the oven to gooey perfection. Lasagna can either be served with just the layers of sauce, noodles and cheese, or sometimes meat and vegetables are added in for a denser dish.
To make lasagna you first cook the noodles and any layers you might be stuffing inside. Then you assemble the creation in a pan and bake it in the oven. Classic lasagnas are severed with tomato or red sauce, but you can try out many different variations such as white cheese sauce, or pesto.
Between the cheese, pasta layers and added meat and veggies lasagna can become a high calorie and high fat meal. However, there are some simple swaps and fixes that can make this traditional meal into a healthier dish.
- Swap to whole wheat lasagna noodles for more added fiber
- Add nutrient dense veggies like spinach
- Swap the meat for mushrooms which still give that dish that “meaty” flavor
- Use low-fat or part-skim cheeses
- Swap some or all of the pasta layers with layers of vegetables like zucchini
Vegan Lasagna Recipe
We know you probably pictured eating the most amazing, gooey, cheese-filled lasagna when we said it was National Lasagna Day. However, this vegan lasagna recipe from Thug Kitchen will make you forget all about wanting that cheese. Check out our Instagram feed to see videos from when we made this delicious vegan meal.
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 ¼ cups packed torn basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
Mushroom Spinach Filling
16 ounces button or cremini mushrooms
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 cups spinach
1 pound lasagna noodles
Double batch of tofu ricotta
Sliced tomatoes (optional)
½ cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
1 block (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Pour the sunflower seeds into a food processor and run until in tiny pieces.
- Take the tofu out of its package and squeeze as much water out of it as you can with your hands. Add it in the food processor and run it until it is all mixed with the sunflower seeds and smooth.
- Dump that into a bowl with the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and garlic. Mix it together and then stir in the nutritional yeast. Keep this in the fridge until needed.
- Put all the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- To make the filling, remove any tough mushroom ends and slice up the mushrooms into pieces no larger than a nickel. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté it for about 2 minutes. Fold in the spinach, add a small pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the spinach is wilted, or about 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the pesto. Taste and add more if you like.
- Het your oven to 375°F. Grab and 8×10-inch baking dish.
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Ladle about 1 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and lay down enough noodles to cover the bottom with just a bit of overlap. Spread one third of the tofu ricotta down, followed by one third of the mushroom filling and pour another cup of the sauce on top. Spread a spoonful or two of pesto over than and then lay down another layer of noodles. Repeat the whole process until you run out of room and top the final layer with noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. Lay tomato slices on top if you want.
- Cover the whole thing in oil and bake for about 30 minutes. Gently take off the foil and bake until the edges of the noodles start to look golden, another 25-30 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before topping with some of the remaining pesto, and serving.
Sarah Domino, Penn State Intern