Classic Lasagna with Meat Sauce

To make a lighter version, stick to part-skim mozzarella and add just a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano to the top so its flavor is prominent. The filling uses fat-free ricotta but stirring in a bit of melted butterenriches it. It ends up tasting great and still has less fat and saturated fat than part-skim ricotta. Extra-lean ground beef (which can cook up dry) works well here as it’s combined with marinara to keep it moist.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces extra-lean ground beef (93% lean)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 25-ounce jar lower-sodium marinara sauce
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine ricotta, 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) mozzarella, 2 tbsp parsley, butter, thyme, 1 garlic clove, and egg; set aside.
  3. Place ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; sprinkle with peppers and remaining 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 9 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble; drain. Return beef mixture ot pan; stir in marinara sauce, and remove from heat.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce in bottom of a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cut bottom third off each noodle to form 6 long and 6 short noodles; cut short noodles in half to form 12 pieces. Arrange 2 long noodles along outside edges of dish; arrange 4 short noodle pieces along center of dish. Top noodles with 1 cup meat sauce. Top with 2 long noodles and 4 short noodle pieces, all of ricotta mixture, and 1 cup meat sauce. Arrange remaining 2 long noodles and 4 short noodle pieces on top. Spread remaining meat sauce over top noodles. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 4 ounces (1 cup) mozzarella cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  5. Preheat broiler to high while keeping lasagna in oven.
  6. Broil lasagna for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp parsley; cut into 4 pieces. Serves 4.
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