Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Best. Lasagna. Ever.

Okay, well maybe it isn't the BEST - but it's pretty darn good (which just doesn't sound as great in the title), it fits within my new allergy-induced egg hiatus, and for those of you who pay attention to such things, it is only 9 points for Weight Watchers. Not bad for seriously tasty lasagna!

Come on... doesn't that look awesome? You know you want some.
So I changed a few things from "standard" lasagna to get this version. I was looking for comfort food (since I am still whining about the allergy situation), that was a little more healthy (because allergies are not a good excuse for why my pants suddenly shrunk), but that fit within the confines of my egg-free diet for the next few weeks.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am focusing on eggs for right now. So no eggs, in any form, for the next two weeks or so. Then I will slowly add them back in over a week or so and see what symptoms I get. The results of that experiment will determine whether or not eggs are permanently eighty-sixed from the list of allowed foods. Then we will move on to another identified allergen for me... which will probably be chicken. Ugh. I eat a lot of chicken, you know.

Which brings me back to the lasagna. So I replaced the normal ground beef that you see in meaty lasagna with ground chicken, and I replaced the Italian Pork Sausage with Hot Italian Chicken Sausage.

This is what ground chicken, Hot Italian Chicken Sausage, diced onions and minced garlic look like in my Dutch Oven. Yum, right?
I like to combine my spices before I add them to the sauce. I don't know why... it is just one of those things that I like to do. And then I like to take a picture of them, because for some reason, I think spices are pretty. Yes, I do have a spice problem. Just ask my friends...


Once the meat was well browned, I added the spices and stirred in all the tomato products. Lots of tomato products in this lasagna. But no ketchup. Yuck.

My lasagna sauce after an hour and a half of simmering. It smells even better than it looks!

I know lasagna takes a long time (this recipe takes about 3 hours total), but it is so worth it. And the list of ingredients is pretty long, but most of it is spices or tomato products, so don't let that scare you away.




For this recipe, I made sure to use egg-free noodles. They boiled for about 8-10 minutes. I drained them and immediately rinsed them in cold water so they would not stick together. No one likes sticky lasagna noodles. Then comes the process of layering.


For the ricotta mixture, I would normally mix it with an egg (I know... eggs are in EVERYTHING), but I used a little fat-free sour cream instead, just to get the fat-free ricotta that I used to a spreadable consistency.

I started with a layer of sauce, then a layer of noodles, then ricotta cheese, mozzarella (the skim variety) and parmesan cheeses, more sauce, more noodles, more ricotta, more mozzarella/parmesan, and more sauce. Then I finished it with more cheese!

Be warned, this makes a MONGO pan of lasagna. My 9x13 pan was full. I even put a baking tray under it to catch the drippings because I was pretty sure this was going to drip a bit. It did. I love it when I'm right.

Now THAT'S comfort food.

Best. Lasagna. Ever.

Ingredients

1 lb Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
1 lb Ground Chicken
1 Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) Can of Tomatoes, crushed
12 oz Tomato Paste
15 oz Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Fennel
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Parsley
12 Lasagna Noodles
16 oz Fat-free Ricotta Cheese
1 Tbsp Fat-free Sour Cream
Salt to taste
12 oz Skim Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

In a dutch oven, cook the sausage, ground chicken, onion and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Stir in the seasonings (minus the Parsley). Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, until they are soft, but still al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese with the sour cream and the parsley, and a touch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a 9x13 pan, spread a couple of ladles of sauce in the bottom and layer half of the noodles (that would be 6 noodles for anyone who failed math) lengthwise in the pan. You will have some overlap. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture and top with a third of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parmesan Cheese. Again, for those who failed math, that would be 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese. Repeat these layers and top with remaining cheese.

Cover with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray to keep the cheese from sticking to it.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes. Let cook for about 15 minutes or so before serving to prevent burning the roof of your mouth with ooey-gooey cheese.