An irresistibly, layered dish that never fails to impress or delight.
Good for any occasion or as a weeknight option, it has everything you could possible want or ask for in a meal.
Meat? Check! ✔️
Cheese? Check! ✔️
Pasta? Check! ✔️
The thing is, lasagna might not always be the healthiest option, so I’ve “cleaned” up this recipe and added one final check mark to round it all out.
Sneaky hidden veggies? Check! ✔️ (But don’t tell anyone!)
The pasta is the first step to cleaning this classic recipe up. Instead of regular noodles we’re going to use 100% whole grain wheat lasagna noodles. On the box there should only be one ingredient: “Whole Grain Durum Wheat Flour”.
I pre-boil my noodles and drain them before lightly oiling and laying them out flat on part of my counter. This keeps them in shape and keeps them from sticking together and making a mess.
This mixture of ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, black pepper and an egg will make up our “white sauce” layer. Be cautious when buying the ricotta since many brands have additives. The version I use is organic and the listed ingredients are: Organic Milk, Organic Vinegar, Salt. Plain, simple and clean.
With our “white sauce” layer done, the meaty tomato-based layer comes next.
Meat, broth, tomato sauce, butternut squash, onions, carrots, olive oil, honey, spices (salt, pepper, smoked paprika, dried basil, oregano and rosemary) and freshly diced garlic goes into a pot to create the next layer. Feel free to sneak a little extra handful or two of chopped spinach into it!
This layer’s creation takes a bit longer since you need to prep and have some patience in allowing the flavors to really meld together. And as it cooks and melds, the butternut squash not only lends a bit of sweetness and richness but it also melts away so this is a great way to get a little extra veggie into your day especially if you live with picky eaters!
And for the final layer, we can’t forget our freshly grated mountain of cheese. I’ve used a muenster and mozzarella mix since it’s what I had on hand. And while it is a great combination, feel free to use your favorite type(s) of cheese!
And now with all our layers made and waiting, it’s time to assemble it all. The order is as follows: meat sauce, pasta, meat sauce, cheese, pasta, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, cheese, pasta, ricotta mixture, meat sauce and finally cheese.
A total of 12 layers. Three pasta layers, four meat sauce layers, three cheese layers, and two ricotta layers.
After a quick trip to the oven we have our final product…
The toughest part was waiting for it to cool enough to cut into it but for the sake of the picture I made the valiant sacrifice.
Clean Eat Lasagna
- 9 100% Whole Wheat Lasagna noodles
Ricotta Mixture ("White Layer")
Meat Sauce ("Red Layer")
- 1 tbsp extra light olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 3 lbs ground beef (can sub 1lb of meat for Italian sausage)
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika (to taste)
- 1 tsp dried oragano (to taste)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary (to taste)
- 1 tsp dried basil (to taste)
- 1 tbsp garlic (diced)
- ½ cup carrots (diced)
- 1 ½ cups butternut squash (cubed)
- 1 cup chicken bone broth
- 20 oz tomato sauce (plain)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 cup raw spinach (chopped) (optional)
- 4 cups shredded cheese (of your choice)
- Prepare the pasta according to the box directions but reduce the boil time by 2 minutes.
- Drain and lightly oil each noodle to prevent them from sticking and clumping together, being careful as you work with the hot noodles.
- An optional and additional step is to lay each lightly oiled noodle flat on trays or a clean counter surface to ensure that they do not stick together.
Ricotta Mixture ("White Layer")
- Add all ingredients for the ricotta mixture into a large bowl and mix together. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.
Meat Sauce ("Red Layer")
- Set a large pot on medium heat.
- Add oil and onions and cook until onions are translucent
- Add ground beef and sausage (if using) and cook until no longer pink, breaking meat up into crumbles as it cooks. If needed, drain off excess oil and fat but not all.
- Once the meat is fully cooked and beginning to brown, add the spices, carrots, spinach (if using) and butternut squash and cook on med-low heat for 3 minutes.
- Add both the bone broth and plain tomato sauce and stir well to incorporate everything. Cover and let simmer for 10-20 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add the honey and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste.Note that if you prefer a wetter sauce you can always add more liquid (broth and tomato sauce and adjust your seasonings to taste).
Assembly and Baking
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F (190°C)
- Using a 13x9 baking dish begin layering your lasagna as follows:01. Meat Sauce (this keeps the noodles from sticking to the bottom during baking)02. Pasta03. Meat Sauce04. Cheese05. Pasta06. Ricotta Mixture07. Meat Sauce08. Cheese09. Pasta10. Ricotta Mixture11. Meat Sauce12. Cheese
- Cover with a foil tent and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and let bake for another 10 minutes. A final option is to set your oven to the broiler setting and broil until the cheese on top turns a golden brown color.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
- To Freeze: Once you've assembled the lasagna (but before you bake it) you can cover it with foil or plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to three months.
- Storage: To store already baked lasagna, cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to one week or place individual pieces into airtight ziplock bags and store in the freezer for up to one month.
- This recipe and its flavors are completely customizable from the types of cheeses (muenster, mozzarella, fontina, and pepper jack are some of my favorites for this bake) to the amount of meat and sauce used, to the flavoring and spices (just be sure to adjust the seasonings and salt levels to match) if you alter one.