Whenever I tell people our Christmas gathering tradition, I get a double-take and “Really?!” For the past 15 years, every since Steve and I got married, we’ve gathered at either our house in Utah, my parents’ house in Canada, or my in-laws’ house in California. All of us. My parents, Steve’s parents, Steve’s brother and our family of four. For our boys, it is a gift to be able to spend each Christmas with both sets of grandparents and their uncle.
Whenever there’s a crowd together for almost a week, the menu needs to include recipes that will feed a bunch of people in one fell swoop. Soups, chicken potpie, stews…Christmas shopping, wrapping and reveling requires plenty of comfort food!
Every year, the kitchen is filled with Nutella fudge, my mother-in-laws traditional butter cookies and treats from friends. The “No Grinch” rule requires that I dig into some of those treats. It’s a tough job, I admit. But a little indulgence means that I need to balance the day with healthier meals.
After doing a little research on various beef lasagnas, I found that the average serving consisted of 22 grams of fat. That’s a little hard to swallow when you’re trying to avoid wearing nothing but pants with elasticized waistbands.
I set to work slashing fat and pumping up the fiber in a classic meat lasagna. First, I switched to whole wheat lasagna noodles and used lean ground turkey and Italian turkey sausages.
Instead of using traditional ricotta cheese, or an even heavier Béchamel sauce, I used low-fat cottage cheese. Sounds kind of weird, right? When you purée it, the cottage cheese becomes smooth and creamy…perfect for lasagna! This is something I’ve done for a couple of years, using the smooth cheese in everything from stuffed shells to lasagna rolls.
If you’re in a hurry, use your favorite store-bought tomato sauce. However, if you have a bit of extra time, this homemade sauce is worth the extra effort.
With three layers of filling, this healthier lasagna is anything but wimpy. Pair it with a salad for a satisfying meal that will keep the masses happy.
Healthy recipes to feed a crowd:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Fisherman’s Soup with Tilapia, Shrimp, Tomatoes & Capers
Cookin’ Canuck’s Healthy Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs
Elephant Eats’ Turkey, Pumpkin & Veggie Chili
iFoodReal’s Slow Cooker Taco Soup
My Purple Spoon’s Vegetable Lentil Soup
Best Low-Fat Turkey Lasagna
This lasagna is great for feeding a crowd, and it's lower in fat than most versions.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 2 spicy Italian turkey sausages
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
- 2 can (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3 tbsp minced flat-leaf parlsey
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick saucepan or skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion, ground turkey and sausages. Cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the turkey and sausages are cooked through.
- Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste and stir to combine with the ground turkey mixture, cooking for 1 minute.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook the lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Lay out the noodles on kitchen towels in a single layer.
- Place cottage cheese, parsley and salt into a blender, and puree until smooth.
Assembling the lasagna:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.
- Lay a few lasagna noodles in a single layer over top of the sauce. When fitting in the lasagna noodles, it may be necessary to cut some in half lengthwise or crosswise so that they fit properly.
- Spread ⅓ of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Top with 1 ½ cups of the sauce, ¼ of the Parmesan cheese, and ⅓ of the sliced basil.
- Repeat these layers 2 more times, starting with the lasagna noodles. End with an additional layer of lasagna noodles, and the remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and baked until the lasagna is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Let rest for 15 minutes, cut into 12 squares and serve.
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