Classic Lasagna with Meat Sauce from Cooking Light – reciperealities

Cooking light lasagna recipe

Growing up, lasagna wasn’t my favorite thing… In fact, I can say that I didn’t like it at all. My aversion to him was that all the variations I had tried included cottage cheese and something about their consistency didn’t fit my palate. As I grew older and started cooking in the kitchen, I learned that authentic Italian lasagna didn’t have cottage cheese at all, but actually used ricotta cheese. I now know that the main reason cottage cheese was so easily used in my younger years was because we didn’t have today’s supermarkets and ricotta was usually found only in specialty markets. Still, the memories stay with you and I wasn’t too eager to make lasagna.

Lasagna is one of Jeff’s favorite foods and if you go to hunting camp after work on a Friday, you’ll stop by the Fresh Market and get some of yours to reheat in your outdoor oven at camp. Since I often send food with him, I knew he should really try lasagna again, as the taste buds change a lot as you get older. Then last week, as I sat on my front porch on a beautiful fall day reading the latest issue of Cooking Light magazine, it just jumped off the pages… A classic lasagna recipe with meat sauce! And guess what? The recipe had NO cottage cheese!

<img src="" alt="Classic Lasagna with Cooking Light Meat Sauce

” />
Classic Lasagna with Cooking Light Meat Sauce

My daughter, Ashleigh, always watches what she eats and prefers when I cook for her to keep it something healthy. So when I found out she was coming for dinner and saw that this recipe only had 378 calories, I knew I was going to try it on this rainy Monday through Friday night. Not only that, I was really going to try to stick to the recipe and make it without adjustments… unusual for me.

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Well, therein lies the problem… A good kitchen is being able to adapt and recover in the kitchen and, although I followed the ingredients as best I could, it did not have an 11 x 7 pan size, so my recipe was going to have to adjust to fit a slightly larger 2.5 quart lasagna pan by changing the portions from 6 to 8 but without affecting the calorie count. (I had to add a little more ricotta, cheese, and meat sauce to the recipe to reflect this change.) It also changed the way I cut my noodles and couldn’t find fat-free ricotta, so I used low-fat, but I didn’t add the melted butter that the recipe indicated to maintain the integrity of the calorie count. The recipe below is my adapted version, but if you have an 11 x 7 skillet, I’ve included the original recipe below.

(Note: In my photos, you will notice that there is much more sauce and ricotta than indicated in the recipe. That’s because I was making two lasagna… one for my personal chef family and one for mine).


1 1/3 cups

  • fat-free ricotta
  • cheese 8 ounces

  • partially skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about
  • 1 1/2 cups) 1/4

  • cup fresh flatleaf parsley leaves
  • , divided 1 tablespoon finely chopped

  • fresh oregano
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
  • 1

  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 16 ounces extra lean ground beef (93% lean)
  • 1/

  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon

  • crushed red pepper 1 jar (25 ounces) low-sodium marinara sauce (I used Prego Heart Healthy
  • )

  • Drizzle on cooking
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked (cut the bottom 1/4 of each to fit in a 2.5-quart skillet. Discard extra pieces)
  • 1

  • /3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
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1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine ricotta, 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) mozzarella, 2 tablespoons parsley, butter, oregano, 1 clove garlic and egg; set aside.

Ricotta Blend
Ricotta Blend… Fresh herbs are a must!

3. Place ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; Sprinkle with peppers and the remaining 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 9 minutes or until meat is golden, stirring to crumble; drain. Return the meat mixture to the pan; Add the marinara sauce and let it simmer until heated.

Meat sauce
Meat sauce

4. Spread 1/2 cup of meat sauce on the bottom of a 2.5-grade glass or ceramic baking dish topped with cooking spray.

Meat sauce at the bottom of baking dishMeat sauce

at the bottom of baking dish

Place 3 noodles on top of the meat sauce and

cover the noodles with another 1 1/4 cups of

meat sauce. Add 3 noodles and another layer of meat sauceAdd 3 noodles and

another layer of meat sauce Top with
3 noodles and


ricotta mixture. Second coat of noodles and ricotta mixtureSecond layer of noodles and ricotta mixtureAdd more meat sauce on top of the ricotta mixture

Add more meat sauce on top of the ricotta mixture

Finally, add the remaining 3 noodles. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the top noodles. Sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese and top with chopped parsella.

Ready to go into the oven!
Ready to go into the oven!

Cover with spray coated aluminum foil for cooking. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. (The recipe required 30 minutes, but I found it needed more time to warm up.) Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bubbling.

(Note: I skipped the next two steps as my lasagna was already perfectly golden and bubbly)

5. Preheat the grill to high. (Keep lasagna in the oven.)

6. Roast the lasagna for 1 to 2 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.

Out of the oven... It looks and smells amazing!

Outside the oven… It looks and smells amazing!

Remove from oven; Let stand 10 minutes (I only made 5) and cut into 8 pieces.

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<img src="" alt="The perfect slice with only 378 calories

!” />
The perfect slice with only 378 calories!


I love lasagna now and can’t wait to do this again! Jeff and Ashleigh said they couldn’t say at all that it was a low-calorie recipe and that it was one of their favorite dishes. Jeff had 2 servings and Ashleigh and I had one. He took the leftovers home from his sick brother, Jarrod, who ate the remaining 4 servings in one go! (Yes, that defeats the purpose of making a “light” lasagna. ha ha!) My family of personal chefs loved it too! I think the only thing I would do differently is maybe add a little more seasoning to my meat when I’m browning and maybe add some sautéed onions, but other than that, this recipe is a real WINNER! This is definitely one to try in your kitchen and you won’t even have to tell your family it’s a “light” recipe! I’m Chef Frankie and until next time… “Keep cooking”!



<img src="" alt="Ashleigh, enjoying her dinner very much!

(FYI… I adore her!)” />
Ashleigh, enjoying her dinner very much! (FYILY… I adore her!)

For the original Cooking Light recipe, see:

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