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The Lighter Way To Cook Lasagna

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 Jessica Kane

This dish, an extravaganza of flavors but also of calories that will delight you but leave you feeling full all day, is one of the icons of Italian cooking. In every Italian household it is the official dish for celebrations, or at least Sunday lunch, the only day when there’s enough time to make it, since even an expert needs at least three hours to prepare the “classic” version. So let’s talk about this “classic” version. I have met at least ten people who think they have the perfect recipe. I’ve tasted versions with little meatballs instead of meat sauce, and my aunt was an expert on this version. My mother would stir an egg into the meat sauce to thicken it. And, as if it weren’t rich enough, my grandmother would add a few slices of mortadella to an already endless list of ingredients – to add flavor, she’d say (as if we were talking about boiled cauliflower).

Yet there are a few tricks to help keep you from falling asleep after lunch. Try one of these four. Or maybe even several all at once!

1. You can make your béchamel with skim milk, a simple way to cut down on a lot of the overall fat content but without skimping on flavor.

2. Instead of ground meat, you can use the same quantity of seitan. And your vegetarian friends will be happy.

3. You can halve the amount of grated Parmigiano. Tasting the grated cheese is great, but just a slight hint might be even better.

4. No meat, just vegetables. Same ingredients, same procedure, but instead of meat use vegetables sautéed in two tablespoons of olive oil and half an onion, sliced thinly (artichokes and asparagus work best, but some people enjoy the somewhat bitter taste of radicchio).

And then ... what about a version with just tomato sauce? Too daring?


10 sheets of Lasagne

60 g (2 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


900 g (3 3/4 cup) milk

50 g (3 1/2 tbsp) butter

50 g (2 1/5 tbsp) flour

Pinch of salt and ground nutmeg

For the meat sauce (fast version)

700 gr (1.5 lb) ground mixture of beef and pork

50 gr (1 3/4 oz) chopped celery, carrot and onion

1 lt (4 cups) tomato sauce

1 cup white wine

1 bay leaf or, as an alternative, basil 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

To prepare the béchamel, melt the butter in a pot, stir in the flour until well blended, and whisk in the hot milk. Add a pinch of salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and set aside.

To prepare the meat sauce, sauté the chopped vegetables in the oil and add the meat, browning well. Use a wooden spoon to mash the meat so there are no large chunks. Add the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes and then add the tomato sauce and bay leaf. Stir until blended, season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and turn down the heat. Simmer for about 45 minutes, remove from the burner and set aside to cool slightly.

Butter a rectangular baking dish and start layering the lasagna, pouring

a little béchamel over the bottom of the dish. Alternate layers of the uncooked pasta, béchamel, meat sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano. The last layer should be meat sauce, béchamel, grated Parmigiano and a few pats of butter.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside for 10 minutes and serve.

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