Three-Cheese Beef Lasagna

I love a good old traditional beef lasagna. But often the fat and calories are enormous due to the fat in the meat, the tons of cheese and the béchamel (white cream sauce). I use lean ground beef and drain both the beef and sausage fat. In the cheese layer I depend on more ricotta and evaporated milk so I don’t need a béchamel sauce. If you don’t have time to make the tomato sauce, replace with 6 cups of store-bought spaghetti sauce (with meat).

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-x13-inch glass casserole dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water just until tender to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. To make the meat and tomato sauce, lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with the cooking spray. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook until brown, breaking up with fork, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate. Set aside.

4. Respray the pan. Add the oil, onion and garlic to skillet and sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Return the beef and sausage to the skillet. Add the dried basil, oregano, salt, pepper, basil leaves, sugar, puréed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 30 minutes. Add the Parmesan. Place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse on and off just until still crumbly. Do not purée.

5. To make the cheese filling, stir the ricotta, cheddar, egg, milk, Parmesan, salt and pepper together in a bowl.

6. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat and tomato sauce over the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with 3 noodles. Spread half of the cheese filling over the noodles. Add another 1 1/2 cups of the meat and tomato sauce, 3 noodles and the remaining half of the filling. Add another 1 1/2 cups sauce and the remaining 3 noodles. Finish with the remaining meat sauce. Top with the grated mozzarella and Parmesan.

7. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, then another 15 minutes uncovered. Garnish with the basil.

9 lasagna noodles

8 oz lean ground beef
6 oz spicy sausage (casing removed, chopped)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp dried basil, crumbled
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
pinch of salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 cans (28 oz) Italian plum tomatoes, drained and puréed (42 oz altogether)
1/3 cup tomato paste
5 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups light ricotta (5%)
1 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup canned evaporated milk (2%)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or parsley

Nutritional Analysis per Serving

Calories 343
Protein 23 g
Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 7.4 g
Carbohydrates 25 g
Cholesterol 71 mg
Sodium 690 mg
Fiber 3 g

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes

Make Ahead: Bake the day before and reheat in a 300°F oven for 20 minutes.

Serves 10

Nutrition Watch: One serving of traditional lasagna may have up to 700 calories, 40 g of fat and 1,130 mg of sodium. Try this lighter version instead.