We all need a go-to, family-pleasing main dish that can be served over and over. Today’s recipe fits this category perfectly.
Combining a well-liked medley of ingredients, this take on skillet lasagna is quick to fix and has undergone a bit of a makeover, making it healthier than most standard versions.
Traditional lasagna uses ground chuck or sometimes sausage for the meat, along with much more cheese than this recipe calls for. Here, extra-lean ground beef is used. I like Laura’s Lean Beef, widely available in our area. You can buy 4-percent or 8-percent fat versions. Using the 4 percent would give you beef that is 96 percent lean. Such lean meat really helps reduce the total fat, and especially the saturated fat, in this dish.
Cutting way back on the usual amount of cheese is another way to reduce saturated fat, and this skillet lasagna version does just that. This recipe calls for about a third of the cheese used in many lasagna recipes, and it’s reduced-fat cheese as well. Additionally, the cheese gets sprinkled on the top, so it looks like more. Sometimes, by fooling our eyes, a little goes a long way toward reducing our waistlines.
Using very lean meat and less cheese, and substituting lower-fat cheese for regular reduces the calories by about half of those in traditional homemade meat sauce versions of lasagna, which often weigh in around 600 to 700 calories per serving.
Today’s version, at 330 calories per serving, can really make a big difference if lasagna is on your family’s menu often.
Notice too, that the noodles are not cooked separately before they are added to the dish. The noodles go right into the pan with the sauce. The sauce starts out a little watery, which allows the noodles to rehydrate. Once the noodles have soaked up the excess water, the sauce is the right consistency.
If you can’t find mini-lasagna noodles, you could break up regular lasagna noodles to make the 3 cups called for in the recipe, or use another kind of noodle, like ziti or rotini. It won’t look as much like lasagna, but it will still taste like it.
You could also easily add more vegetables to the sauce. For instance, toss in a cup or two of broccoli florets as the sauce simmers, or toss in a few handfuls of raw spinach right at the end, when the noodles are almost tender. The spinach will cook down quickly to become part of the sauce.
This recipe is almost a meal by itself, but if you don’t increase the vegetables in the sauce, you could add a side dish, like a spinach salad or roasted asparagus.
Megan Murphy is a Tennessee-licensed registered dietitian and associate professor of nutrition at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Call (901) 277-3062; fax (901) 529-2787, email Meganmyrd@aol.com.
Healthier Skillet Lasagna
1 lb. extra-lean (at least 93 percent) ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jar (about 25.5 oz.) Italian herb pasta sauce, preferably reduced sodium
1½ cups water
1 tbsp. ketchup
3 cups (6 oz.) uncooked mini-lasagna noodles
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup shredded, reduced-fat, Italian herb cheese blend (4 oz.)
In a large (at least 12-inch) nonstick skillet, cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.
Stir in remaining ingredients, except cheese. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese.
Makes 6 servings (1 cup each).
Per serving: 330 calories, 8 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 27 g protein, 530 mg sodium.
Source: Modified from eatbetteramerica.com