SMART WEAPONS: SUPER SKINNY EGGPLANT LASAGNA

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Winning the war against unwanted weight–losing more than 30 pounds in just 4 months and keeping it off for 2 years–didn’t take magic…but it did take a few secret weapons.

And one of the secret (and smart) weapons I’ve relied on most in my fight against fat, one that helped me shoot down the scale without ever feeling hungry or deprived, is Super Skinny Eggplant Lasagna.

Seriously, who doesn’t love lasagna? With its layers of meaty tomato sauce, cheese and bechamel, it’s a dish that’s perfect for a family supper or a fabulous dinner party…

And, until I knew The Skinny, whenever I craved lasagna I’d reach for one of a dozen recipes from my favorite chefs and restaurants…like the one from the ever-adorable Giada DeLaurentiis.

There’s no doubt Giada’s dish is delicious. I’ve never made any of her recipes that weren’t.

But after doing the math, I am pretty sure that Giada–who might weigh 100 pounds dripping wet and holding a tire iron wrapped in a wet towel–isn’t eating that lasagna very often.

Not counting calories in the vegetables (because I rarely do), but by just adding up the butter, ricotta, Parmesan, milk, mozzarella, eggs, ground chuck, tomato sauce, flour, olive oil and pasta, I found out that this recipe has more than 8459 calories and 550 grams of fat for just SIX servings!!  That’s more than 1400 calories and 99 grams of fat per person!! 

Yikes! With dishes like that in my regular meal rotation, I didn’t need a detective to figure out why my whole family was considering caftans for Christmas!

But by re-designing this family favorite– using The Skinny Truths about meat, dairy and gluten as my guide–this hearty lasagna is back on our dinner table…but with  just a fraction of the calories and fat and with far more nutrition.

Tossing out the calorie and gluten rich pasta, I let oven-fried eggplant act like the noodles. Fat-free cottage cheese mixed with light tofu and egg whites pretend to be the ricotta and the bechamel.  And rather than dangerously fatty ground chuck, chopped vegetables cooked with lean hot turkey sausage, herbs and spices will give you the sensation of eating much more meat than you actually are….helping you (and your family) “ease up on the animal” without even realizing it!

Now, this skinny-fied version of classic lasagna delivers the same great flavor and texture as any of the recipes I used in the past, but has fewer than 350 calories and 8 grams of fat for each big serving!

So, don’t think you can’t get skinny without giving up your favorite foods.  You can!  You just have to be smarter than they are!

(Because I’ve added so many more vegetables, I use a larger lasagna pan than Giada, but did stick to the same serving size…a 4 inch by 5 inch slice.  It is a huge serving, feel free to eat less!)

SUPER SKINNY EGGPLANT LASAGNA

Early fall is a great time to buy eggplant at your farmers market. In L.A., they’re about a dollar apiece right now, much less expensive than in a grocery store.

This is another recipe that really requires a food processor. Use it to do the chopping for the sauce, and you’ll be finished filling the pot in minutes.

TURKEY SAUSAGE AND VEGGIE RAGU:

(Don’t be thrown off by the quantity you see in my photos.  I always double the recipe and freeze half of it for later in the month.)

1 package Jennie O Lean Hot Turkey Sausage (1.22 lbs)

2 onions, chopped

2 medium eggplant, chopped

3 carrots, chopped fine

3 stalks celery,  chopped

2 bell pepper, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 T fresh garlic, minced

2 t dried oregano

2 t dried basil

1 t dried thyme

1 t paprika

2 T red wine vinegar

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T Better Than Bouillon Beef Broth Paste

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, torn into pieces with your hands

1 28 oz can crushed or pureed tomatoes

1 lb sliced brown mushrooms

Squeeze sausage meat from casings and begin cooking with the onions over medium heat, breaking up clumps when you need to.

Continue to use the food processor to chop each vegetable, adding them to the pot as you go.

Add the seasonings and stir well. When meat is completely cooked through, add the 2 cans of tomatoes and the sliced mushrooms.

Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for one hour.

OVEN FRIED EGGPLANT

3 globe eggplant

1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup liquid egg whites

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice eggplants into 1/2 inch rounds and put in a large bowl.  Pour egg whites over and toss with your hands.

Spread out a 2 foot piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on the counter and lightly sprinkle with bread crumbs. Lift the eggplant slices to the paper and sprinkle another light coating of bread crumbs on top. Repeat until all slices are coated.

As you finish each batch, place slices on baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking oil.  Spray the top of the slices with cooking oil as well.

Bake about 40 minutes, rotating trays from top to bottom halfway through. They should be crispy on the outside but soft inside.

NOT REALLY RICOTTA

2 cups non-fat cottage cheese

2 bricks of Mori-Nu light tofu (Kroger stores carry it. If you can’t find that brand, any brand of light tofu will do.)

1/2 c egg whites

2 t red wine vinegar

pinch of dried oregano, basil and thyme

Use your food processor to blend all until smooth.

CHEESE TOPPING:

1/2 c shredded 2% mozzarella Cheese

1/4 c plus 1 T grated Parmesan Cheese

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon a thin coating of the ragu into a 16 x 10 x 3 lasagna pan.  (If you don’t have a pan that is 3 inches deep, you can pick up a pack of disposable foil lasagna pans at most grocery stores, dollar stores, or Costco.)

Add a layer of sliced eggplant and top with a layer of ragu.

Top the ragu with the Not Really Ricotta mixture and sprinkle with 1 T of Parmesan.

Add another layer of eggplant slices and cover with the rest of the sauce.

Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of Mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Bake at 400 for one hour until top is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Top with fresh chopped parsley and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

RE-USE, RE-PURPOSE, RE-CYCLE.

By doubling the recipe for the sauce, you can have another lasagna later in the month with much less effort.

Once the sauce has cooled to room temperature, just divide it into 2 one gallon freezer bags. (You want to divide it so that it’s easier to thaw!)

And, to protect your freezer from an accidental leak (speaking from experience here!) it’s best to place the bags in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet before putting them in the freezer.

Once the sauce is solid, you can remove the dish.

And, while eggplants are in season, plentiful and cheap, I often freeze the cooked oven-fried eggplant slices in a big freezer bag as well.  Even if I don’t feel like putting together another lasagna, they’re a great snack!

 

 

 

About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!
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One Response to SMART WEAPONS: SUPER SKINNY EGGPLANT LASAGNA

  1. Dana Tate says:

    wow, i’m so impressed! i think we’ll be seeing you on the food network soon. i love to watch that channel. i printed the recipe. now how can i share this on my fb page? i did hit the like button? you look fantastic so i know it’s working!!!

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