Healthy Homemade Lasagna (à la Loaf Pans)

Healthy Homemade Lasagna (à la Loaf Pans)

A number of our friends have recently been in need of some freezer meals, and one of my go-to staples to provide is lasagnas prepped and delivered in aluminum loaf pans — a perfect size for 2 servings, so you’re not left with a boatload of leftovers in an enormous baking dish. Everyone who has received and partaken of these lasagnas has raved about them and how delicious they are, and most have asked for the recipe. Admittedly, this recipe never existed on paper until I was asked for about the 8th time for a copy of the recipe, as I just made it off-the-cuff. But here is the official recipe, finally documented outside of my head, for your making and partaking pleasure. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  1. 4 loaf pans (8″ x 4″ x 2.5″)
  2. Cooking spray
  3. 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  4. 5 c. pasta sauce
  5. 10 lasagna noodles
  6. 2-3 c. cottage cheese (1% or 2% small curd, milkfat)
  7. 1-2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  8. 1 c. shredded or shaved parmesan cheese
  9. 1 lb. ground sirloin or sausage
  10. Chopped/diced veggies such as bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, squash (optional)
  11. Garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, minced)
  12. Dried basil
  13. Dried oregano
  14. Kosher or sea salt
  15. Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Boil lasagna noodles in a large stockpot according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Cut each noodle down to the length of the loaf pan, approximately 8″ long. Save the extra noodle segments, as they can (and will) be used for 2 of the layers. Once the noodles are cut, set them aside, keeping relatively wet/moist, lest they dry out and become unwieldy.
  3. While noodles are boiling, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add meat, breaking apart into crumbles, and cook until browned, seasoning with garlic powder (or minced garlic), salt, and pepper to taste. During the last few minutes, add dried basil and oregano, to taste. When done, transfer to a plate or cookie sheet lined with paper towels to drain off excess fat.
  4. If desired, return meat to the sauté pan and mix in 1/2 to 1 c. pasta sauce over low heat until the sauce is slightly warmed.
  5. Transfer meat to a bowl and set aside.
  6. If using additional veggies, cook them (if desired) in a sauté pan over medium heat until done to your liking, seasoning to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Prepare each loaf pan with lasagnas (see below).
  8. Bake at 350° F for 30-35 minutes, covered. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. (Note: If baked from being frozen, you will need to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, covered.)

Lasagna Assembly

  1. Spray the bottom of each loaf pan with cooking spray and spread them out on the counter. In each pan…
  2. Add 1/4 c. pasta sauce to the bottom so it is covered. Place one 8″ noodle segment down on top of the sauce.
  3. Spread approximately 1/8th of the meat mixture (and veggies, if applicable), 1/4 c. pasta sauce, and 1/4 to 1/2 c. cottage cheese. Sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese, if desired.
  4. Top with another noodle segment (this is a good time to use the small segments for a layer in 2 of the pans). Repeat the previous step of adding meat/veggies/sauce/cheese.
  5. Top with remaining noodle segments.
  6. Spread on the remaining pasta sauce among each pan, making sure each top noodle is covered well with sauce to avoid becoming too dry and crisp around the edges. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, then with parmesan cheese.
  7. Sprinkle on dried basil and oregano to your heart’s content.
  8. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Notes

Though it takes some prep and assembly time, making 4 loaf pans that are freezer-to-oven ready is definitely worth the effort. Nothing in the recipe is all that tough to do, just a little time consuming.

If you want a thicker, fuller lasagna, add in 4 more noodles and some extra meat/veggies/cheese and create an additional layer.

If you want or need to make this vegetarian, just leave out the meat and/or swap with your favorite meat substitute.

Personally, I like to use the following specific brands/types of ingredients:

  • Prego Light Smart Traditional pasta sauce
  • 1% or 2% milkfat small curd cottage cheese (make sure the brand you use it isn’t too runny/watery)
  • Ground sirloin is more heart-healthy, being 90% lean. Feel free to use ground beef, sausage, etc.
  • Veggie inclusion is up to you as far as what you want in the filling. I like to include at least one or two veggies, but it’s a total personal preference.

And lastly, as mentioned above, if you bake straight from the freezer, you’ll need to add about 10-15 minutes of covered bake time.

Bon Appétit!

 

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