Can it be…pasta-free?!
You might think that following a healthier diet means saying goodbye to family favorites like lasagna. Surely all those layers of rich beef ragu, pasta, béchamel sauce, and cheese can’t be healthy?
Not to worry…happily, we’ve got a fantastic recipe that puts a nutritious and lower-carb twist on this old classic. This one-layer lasagna uses slices of zucchini and tomato in place of traditional egg pasta sheets, which cuts the calories and carb content while giving you a hefty boost of veggie nutrients. We haven’t scrimped on the cheese either, but instead of a high-fat béchamel sauce, we’ve used lower fat ricotta cheese and mozzarella to create a creamy yet crispy cheesy topping.
High protein, low-carb, and veggie-rich
While we’re not suggesting you need to give up pasta completely, swapping starchy carbs for a lower-carb alternative now and then can be a great way to reduce your overall calorie intake and feel full without feeling stuffed. It’s also a great way to hide vegetables in your meals, particularly for people (especially kids!) who aren’t keen on eating their greens.
Zucchini is a versatile vegetable – perfect for spiralizing into noodles, enjoying raw in a salad, or for bulking up a soup or curry. It’s high in antioxidants and vitamins, including many that support heart health such as potassium, magnesium, and folate. Similarly, tomatoes are packed with essential vitamins, contributing to healthy eyes, skin, and a happy digestive system.
With plenty of beef and ricotta, this dish is high in protein, which will help in keeping you satiated for longer. Beef also contains many essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium, and zinc. Ricotta is relatively high in protein compared to other cheeses, and its creamy consistency is perfect for lasagna. As an alternative, cottage cheese is slightly higher in protein and lower in fat than ricotta, but it’s not quite as creamy.
Low-Carb Lasagna (serves 6)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1lb. lean grass-fed beef, minced
1 beef stock cube (optional)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 – 14oz. can of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 zucchinis, sliced
4 large tomatoes, sliced
Handful of basil leaves
1½ cups ricotta cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion and garlic, stirring until the onion has softened.
- Add the minced beef and stir thoroughly. Crumble the stock cube in and allow to simmer for around 10 minutes. At this stage, pre-heat the oven to 350º.
- Add the chopped red pepper and canned tomatoes to the ragu and stir again, adding the oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for a further 10 minutes to allow the pepper to cook and the sauce to thicken. Taste and add more seasoning if required.
- Meanwhile, slice the zucchini in a diagonal direction to create long ovals. Slice the tomato and set aside.
- When you are ready to make up the lasagna, pour the ragu into a large oven-proof dish.
- Cover the sauce with a layer of zucchini slices, then cover the zucchini layer with the tomato slices. Tear up the basil leaves and sprinkle them across the tomatoes.
- Mix the ricotta in a bowl with salt and pepper (and any other flavorings as you desire). Spoon the ricotta over the tomato layer and even it out.
- Tear up the mozzarella into small chunks and dot them evenly across the ricotta layer.
- Put the lasagna dish in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted and turned crispy.
- Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving (this pairs great with a green salad!)
- This recipe is low-carb, gluten-free, and wheat free.
- If you prefer, you can substitute other types of minced meat instead for the beef.
- Zucchini and tomato release water when cooked, so ensure that your ragu isn’t too runny or the end result will be quite watery. Drain off any excess liquid before you pour the ragu into the baking dish.
Integrative Nutrition is the world’s largest nutrition school and Health Coach Training Program. Through our innovative, one-year online course, students learn the principles of health coaching, business skills, and over 100 different dietary theories with lectures by the world’s leading experts.