Meat and Cheese Lasagna

This recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook -- Serves 10

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups nonfat ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
  •  3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
  •  1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
  •  1 cup chopped fresh basil
  •  1 large egg, lightly beaten
  •   Salt and pepper
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  •  1 onion, minced
  •  6 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  •  1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  •  1 pound ground chicken (see note below)
  •  1 (28‑ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  •  1 (28‑ounce) can diced tomatoes
  •  16 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (see note below)
  •   Vegetable oil spray

Instructions:

  1. Mix the ricotta, 2 cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the basil, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl until well combined; cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the ground chicken and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and set aside until needed.
  4. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the lasagna noodles and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until almost al dente but still firm to the bite. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water until cool. Lay the pasta out over clean kitchen towels.
  5. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 13 by 9‑inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
  6. Spread 11/2 cups of the meat sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Place 4 noodles on top of the sauce and spread 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture evenly down the center of each noodle. Spoon 11/2 cups more of the sauce evenly over the ricotta. Repeat this layering two more times.
  7. For the final layer, place the remaining 4 noodles on top, spread the remaining 2 cups sauce over the noodles, and sprinkle with the remaining cup mozzarella. Spray a large sheet of aluminum foil lightly with vegetable oil spray and cover the lasagna.
  8. Place the lasagna on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the sauce is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

Per Serving (41/2 by 21/2‑inch piece): Cal 390; Fat 14g; Sat Fat 6g; Chol 80mg; Carb 40g; Protein 30g; Fiber 6g; Sodium 870mg

NOTE:  You can substitute 12 no-boil noodles for the whole-wheat noodles if desired (no-boil noodles are larger in size). If using no-boil noodles, skip the pasta boiling instructions in step 4 and use 3 noodles per each layer of lasagna. Do not use ground chicken breast here (also labeled 99% fat-free) or the meat will taste dry and grainy.

To Make Ahead:  The assembled lasagna can be covered with foil and refrigerated for up to 3 hours before baking; bake as directed. We do not recommend making this lasagna in advance if using no-boil noodles.
 

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