What Are the Best Tips for Making Low-Fat Lasagna?

Sheri Cyprus

The best tips for making low-fat lasagna include using fresh, flavorful ingredients while reducing the amount of fat. Making a vegetarian rather than meat version is one way to reduce fat as well as using low-fat cheeses. Delicious seasoning and vegetables that add bulk to the dish, yet are still cooked tender, can help create a delicious low-fat lasagna.

Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves.
Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves.

Fresh mushrooms are an especially good addition, as they have a "meaty" texture. They should be sauteed first in very little oil until slightly tender. The mushrooms will continue to cook as the lasagna bakes, so they shouldn't be overcooked during the sauteing stage. Cutting thick instead of thin mushroom slices is a good tip to help avoid overcooking. Also, using fresh mushrooms is a better idea than using canned mushrooms, as canned mushrooms are much softer to start with and can't create a bulky texture for the low-fat lasagna.

Lasagna is always a good crowd pleaser.
Lasagna is always a good crowd pleaser.

Sliced fresh zucchini is another great lasagna vegetable for its bulky texture. Zucchini also has the benefit of working well with tomato sauce. Canned or jarred commercial sauces are best avoided when making a low-fat lasagna, as many have added oils and sugar or corn syrup. A healthier, richer tomato sauce to use in low-fat lasagna can be easily made by using fresh or canned tomatoes along with Italian seasonings, minced garlic and finely chopped onions sauteed in a small amount of oil. Making the sauce ahead and refrigerating it overnight can make assembling the lasagna faster as well as increase the sauce's flavor.

Using reduced-fat cheeses in the lasagna can greatly reduce the calories from fat. Part-skim rather than full-fat mozzarella cheese should be used along with Parmesan. A good tip is to buy a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grate it to add to the low-fat lasagna. Commercial versions tend to have added salt. They are also often very finely grated, whereas grating the Parmesan at home can produce a thicker texture.

Low-fat cottage cheese can also help reduce the fat content of lasagna. Mixing in some freshly ground pepper as well as just a little of the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese can help create a richer taste. With three cheeses, a variety of bulky, tender vegetables and a well-seasoned tomato sauce, the ground beef isn't often missed in a low-fat lasagna. If the meat is desired, the amount of the cheeses should be reduced and only extra-lean ground beef or turkey should be used in the dish.

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