I used to be afraid of lasagna. Not because it’s known to be a carb-filled, cheese-loaded, make-sure-you-wear-your-stretchy-pants kind of dish, but because it has always seemed like way too much work. If you are a regular NITK reader, you know I prefer to make easy recipes that don’t take too much time or need too many ingredients. Simple, simple is my jam.
I’m happy to say, the fear is gone! Lasagna is now a recipe in my repertoire because I’ve figured out how to change it up and no longer is it complicated and time consuming dish to make. My easy and healthy lasagna is made with less than 10 ingredients, and the cashew spinach ricotta is just 7-ingredients that need to be blended together, super simple.
Maybe you steer clear of lasagna not because it seems to require more work, but because of the carb-filled, cheese-loaded, make-sure-you-wear-your-stretchy-pants part. Well, I’ve solved that too!
Ok, maybe not completely. My healthy lasagna does still contain carbohydrates but there are only two layers of gluten-free lasagna noodles balanced between layers of veggie-filled plant-based “meat sauce” and creamy (dairy-free!) cashew ricotta. The sauce and ricotta contain fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and tons of veggie-goodness. In my opinion there’s really a perfect balance of nutrition in this recipe, and trust me, you won’t need to put on your stretchy pants.
I’ve teamed up with Lightlife to create this healthy lasagna and am super excited to be an official “Lightlifer”. While I am not exclusively plant-based, I do like plant-based meals and balance them often with non plant-based meals. Years ago I ate primarily vegetarian, and at that time I remember struggling to find healthy meat alternative products that actually tasted good. Actually. Not close my eyes while chewing and pretend it tastes good….but ACTUALLY tasted good. At that time, I didn’t know about Lightlife and I wish I had. It’s by far the best tasting (and best textured!) plant-based meat product I’ve tried yet. Even my hubby approved and he’s not easy to please when it comes to plant-based alternatives.
For my easy and healthy lasagna I used the Lightlife Smart Ground Zesty Italian and it adds an amazing meaty texture to the sauce that blends perfectly with garlic, carrots, onions, and zucchini. The smart ground is made with organic non-GMO soy protein and actually contains 11g of protein per serving, which balances well with the carbohydrates and healthy fats in this dish.
With winter in full-force I’m definitely craving comfort foods and this healthy lasagna hits the spot while also being a well-balanced meal. Most lasagna recipes take hours to prepare but this one comes together in less than 45 minutes and because of the use of plant-based protein, the cooking time is really cut down!
I also love that the leftovers taste amazing and it’s a great recipe to freeze too. Make a big batch of this lasagna and put whatever you don’t eat in the freezer for another warm and filling meal any busy night of the week.
Are you a fan of lasagna? Is there a way you make yours more simple or healthier? I’d love to read about it in the comments below! Be sure to pin the photo after the recipe to save it for later and of course, share the love!
- Lasagna Sauce & Noodles:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup finely chopped zucchini
- ¾ cup finely chopped carrots
- 1½ packages Lightlife Zesty Italian Ground (or 500g ground meat of choice)
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 package gluten-free lasagna noodles*
- Cashew Spinach Ricotta:
- 3 cups cashews, soaked in warm water for 1 hour then drained
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh spinach
- Optional Garnishes:
- ¼ cup dairy free parmesan cheese (store-bought)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or spinach
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare the Cashew Spinach Ricotta by adding the soaked cashews, hot water, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and spinach to a high-speed blender.
- Blend on low, then slowly increase the speed to high, and blend until a ricotta texture is achieved (not completely smooth, but not super clumpy either).
- Transfer cashew ricotta to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add in the olive oil, garlic, chopped onion, zucchini, and carrots, and sauté for 5 minutes until onions begin to turn translucent and the vegetables soften slightly.
- Next, crumble in the Lightlife Zesty Italian Smart Gound and sauté with the vegetables for 3 minutes to slightly browned (if you are using meat such as beef or turkey, sauté until completely cooked through, about 10 minutes).
- Pour in the marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the lasagna sauce from heat.
- Spread 1 cup of the lasagna sauce on the bottom of a 13" x 9" baking dish
- Top with 1 layer of uncooked gluten-free lasagna noodles (you may have to break the noodles into smaller pieces to cover all of the sauce, I used about 5 noodles).
- Next, spread ½ of the cashew spinach ricotta over the dry noodles in an even layer, then spread another cup of the lasagna sauce over the ricotta.
- Add one more layer of uncooked gluten-free lasagna noodles, and top with the remaining lasagna sauce.
- Drop dollops of the remaining cashew spinach ricotta over the meat sauce and spread slightly (see photo in post).
- Sprinkle over dairy free-parmesan cheese, if using, and the chopped basil or spinach.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes then broil at 500 degrees for 2 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Have a wonderful Sunday,
DISCLAIMER: THIS POST WAS SPONSORED BY LIGHTLIFE. AS ALWAYS THE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE LIFE AND GROWTH OF NUTRITION IN THE KITCH!