Lasagna Thoughts…..

I may have well been the last person on Planet Earth who paid attention when one of the celebrity chefs said, “No, you don’t have to cook your lasagna noodles beforehand.” Talk about a liberating moment. I mean, seriously, boiling the noodles, then trying to handle them properly to get them stretched out flat to dry without tearng them – it really was a bother. So, just in case there is another person who hasn’t heard this, the trick to using uncooked noodles is to cover the lasagna with foil, bake for 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 15, then let it sit the usual 10 minutes before trying to slice into it.

By the same token of making lasagna more approachable, every ingredient except for the noodles themselves now comes with a lighter version, so you can reduce the dish in calories and fat without sacrificing much taste. I will admit that I do take a short cut by using a jar of prepared sauce, but I haven’t found that it makes a difference in the flavor. I use the leanest ground beef I can find and they have leaner sauages if you like to blend the two meats. I use skim ricotta, although I tend to stay away from the fat-free. There are some brands of reduced calorie and reduced fat Italian Cheese blends as well. Even though there’s not much you can do about cutting back on parmesan, you can sprinkle it lightly. I do agree that if you take the full calorie/fat version and have them side-by-side, your tummy is probably going to want the heavier version. But if you just go with the lighter one, your tummy will respond to that quite well. I do always try the cook the meat sauce for at least thirty minutes before I start the layering and when I can, I prefer to let it simmer for an hour.

For garlic bread, stay away from the commerical products, and if you can, roast 3-4 garlic cloves wrapped in foil for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Then mash the roasted cloves into softened butter and spread that lightly on the bread before you bake it. The enhanced flavor of the compound butter means you can use less butter and still have a great taste.


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