Gooey, cheesy lasagna is many people’s desired Italian dish.
But the calories and fat can be exorbitant.
Kristina Kubik, 25, a Crystal Lake healthy cook and baking blogger at WhippedBaking.com, came up with an alternative recipe for this favorite called Penne with Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce and Baked Ricotta, or Inside Out Lasagna.
“I’ve been making the sauce for a while,” Kubik says. “When you put the fresh basil in, it just brings out the flavor and makes it a little spicy.”
As one of her favorite sauces, she makes sure she uses San Marzano canned tomatoes.
“They are a little more expensive, but are so much better,” she says.
The sauce can be made ahead of time and can be frozen, too.
When Kubik decided to create healthier lasagna, she decided not to stuff a bunch of cheese inside the noodles.
“I decided to bake the ricotta and crumble it on top of the dish,” she says, noting her recipe only calls for a cup of reduced fat ricotta. “It works.”
She mixes the ricotta with one egg plus seasonings and bakes it for half an hour. When it’s slightly cooled, she gently crumbles it on top of the pasta dish.
The entire recipe serves six people and has only 274 calories and 9 grams of fat per serving.
“I use a little olive oil, whole-wheat pasta and a vegetable-heavy sauce to reduce the calories,” she says. “I grew up in an Italian home where big portions were normal. So, I’ve had to learn the correct portion of pasta and not use a lot of cheese, which adds fat. “
Kubik started her healthy cooking blog about a year ago.
“I grew up cooking,” she says. “My mom is an Italian mom. I really started to get into healthy cooking in college at the University of Illinois.”
Penne with Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce and Baked Ricotta (Inside Out Lasagna)
Yields: 6 servings
Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup basil (coarsely chopped)
1 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 large egg
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 15-ounce baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large 4-quart pot of water to boil for pasta. Season with salt. While waiting to boil, make the ricotta mixture and sauce.
3. In a small bowl mix ricotta, egg, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until puffed up and slightly brown. Let cool 5 minutes. Then, using a spatula or spoon, gently crumble the ricotta.
4. Make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine olive oil, crushed tomatoes and their juices, garlic, salt and red pepper. Turn on heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat and stir in basil.
5. Once your pasta water is boiling, add the whole-wheat penne and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return to pot.
6. Mix finished tomato sauce with the pasta and top with crumbled ricotta.
(Calorie calculation using myfitnesspal.com — per serving: 274 calories, 9 grams of fat)