The hibernating season is over! The weather is getting warmer and once again it’s time to shed all those layers- not just the woolly ones but the ones that find a home around our middles in winter!
All this thinking about layers inspired me to give the traditional stodgy lasagne a Spring makeover and instead of the usual pasta and meat tiers, I experimented with leaving out the meat and bechamel and reducing the amount of pasta.
I used dried egg lasagne sheets as they are a store cupboard basic of mine and (almost) as good as fresh pasta. The changes to the traditional dish will probably upset all you purists out there as it’s not a typical lasagne any more! But on the plus side this is a lighter, lower calorie dish which is tasty, nutritional and less time-consuming to prepare.
I used spinach as the meat substitute as it’s a fave veg of my daughter who happened to be helping me that day as chief cheese-grater. But you could use any other “meaty” vegetables like mushrooms or aubergines instead of spinach. If thoughts of squeezing into that bikini has brought you out in a cold sweat and you are on a ruthless calorie cutting mission, you can decrease the quantity of cheese topping. Full fat mozzarella for example adds around another 300 calories to the dish but it does add a lovely creamy texture.
Baked Spinach and Tomato Pasta
Prep to Plate: Prep: 20 mins Cooking time: 30 mins
Ingredients (feeds 6 persons)
- 8-10 egg lasagne sheets (sufficient to line the base and top of an oblong oven proof dish)
- 500g Cherry Tomatoes (or tinned substitute)
- 250g young spinach
- 1 leek
- 1 red pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbspn chopped herbs such as marjoram or oregano
- 125g mozzarella
- 4 tbspns grated parmesan
- 2 tbspns of basil pesto
- vegetable stock
- glug of wine (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Prepare sauce by dicing then frying the leek, red pepper, halved cherry tomatoes and garlic until caramelised.
- Add spinach and add about 1/2 litre of vegetable stock to cover the spinach.
- Add salt, pepper and a little wine if preferred and cook gently for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime lightly oil the oven proof dish and cover the bottom with pasta.
- Stir in pesto into the vegetable mixture before pouring it into the dish to covering the pasta. Reserve a little of the mixture.
- Cover the vegetable mixture with another layer of pasta sheets.
- Pour remaining sauce over it.
- Cover with grated mozzarella and parmesan.
- Cook in a preheated oven for about twenty minutes (or following your fresh pasta cooking time)and until the cheese is golden brown.
- Serve with a green salad.
Hope you enjoy it! I’d love to hear your own suggestions for other low-calorie but healthy Mediterranean style fillings for this recipe.
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