September 5, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

My parents are very typical of their age group when it comes to food, in that they’re all about the meat & potatoes. They also know what they like, and don’t like for anyone to mess with it.  I cook dinner for them just about every Sunday, and tend to menu ‘comfort’, staying away from too many experiments. Except for vegetables-but that’s another story for another day!

So when dad requested lasagna a couple weeks ago, it was with some trepidation that I took upon the task of lightening up the recipe I’ve used for many years. It’s full of fat, with ground beef, Italian sausage (the pork kind) and full fat cheeses. It’s delicious, don’t get me wrong, but a single serving is enough fat & calories for a week!

Breaking it down:

The Sauce: the healthiest part of the dish! I’ll admit to cheating when it comes to sauce. Barilla brand marinara & arrabbiata sauces, mixed together in equal portions, along with lots of onion & garlic sautéed in evoo, is the perfect sauce for any Italian dish! 
 
The Noodles: Dad request came about not long after I found a cool lasagna recipe that uses raw zucchini planks in place of the noodles. 

The Meat: I figured the ground beef was extraneous, so just deleted it. I figured a turkey or chicken based sausage would help get the calorie & fat content down a good bit over the pork sausage. I did add a little bit of fennel to the sauce while simmering it. It gave it that sweetness typical of traditional Italian sausage.

The Cheese: Skim version for the ricotta, a no-brainer. I also deleted the egg I’d always added to the ricotta to help bind it. The skim seemed pretty dense, so I didn’t think we’d  miss the egg. I splurged a bit on the shredded cheese. I got a ‘pizza blend’ with mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan & Romano. I checked the nutritional info, and it had the same amount of fat & calories as the skim mozzarella, so thought the blend would add a nice depth of flavor vs the plain mozz.

Now to put it all together and see how it turns out….

I decided I wouldn’t mention any of these changes to my folks until after they’d tried the lasagna, afraid it would bias their opinion. I let them get about half way through their dinner before asking how they liked it.  Both said it was delicious, although dad did stop with his fork halfway to his mouth when I mentioned that I’d “lightened it up a good bit”. He asked me how I’d done so-probably afraid I’d tell him I’d added tofu & weeds to it.

They seemed OK with the changes, in fact, hadn’t even noticed there was any difference from the original version. I knew they were being honest when dad asked for another slab… and said ‘yes’ immediately after I asked if they wanted the leftovers once I’d packaged & frozen them.

I thought it turned out pretty good too. I’ll absolutely keep the lightened up version as my lasagna recipe of choice. The only thing I’d do differently is roast or sear the squash first. Adding that little extra layer of flavor, and keeping the moisture down will make it so close to the original, I dare anyone to tell the difference!

Contact Us

4944 Old Boonsboro Rd.
Lynchburg,VA 24503
434.384.3663

Want to talk Business?
partner@merig.com

Human Resources
hr@merig.com

Testimonials

Testimonials

The food is just incredible! I really mean it…I hope you know that I am not just saying this. It’s so colorful, fresh, and delicious…so special every day!”

Faculty Member 
Faculty Member

Just a note to say thank you for all of the delicious food you and your staff serve each day. I never knew kale could taste so good!

Administrator 
Administrator

Outstanding food, outstanding service, outstanding people. I brag about MG to my peers at other schools, and even to my friends and family!

Administrator 
Administrator

Thank you so much for all the gluten-free options this year! All of your staff have been so helpful. They make a point to come up to me at meals and let me know what options you have for that meal. Salads are great, but sometimes a warm meal is just what you need!

Faculty Member 
Faculty Member

Thanks for all of the good work you and your team did to ensure that last night’s welcome gathering for new faculty went off without a hitch. I’m so grateful for Team MG working so hard to make sure things are done the right way.

Head of School 
Head of School

It’s an understatement to say we were surprised by the excellent quality of the food. We could not recall having a better tuna dish, even at the four-star resturants we frequent in Raleigh. Duke Integrative is a special place.

Guest 
Guest

Many times I find a favorite thing out of the many items served during lunch, and although the featured spinach and fruit salad was visually stunning; the SHOUT OUT winner of the day hands down was the very delicious unassuming Vegetarian Pinto Beans!!! The onions were glistening and the peppers served as a complimentary color to the two different shades of beans…I have one regret and that is I didn’t think to take a picture!

Administrator 
Administrator

Thank you for making pimento cheese today! It not only is divine, but also hit the spot. I now regret wasting 62.5 years of life on this planet in which I did not eat this heavenly mix. As I explore different recipes in my home kitchen I will try my best to live up to the standard demonstrated by what I had today.

Faculty Member 
Faculty Member

Everything was wonderful…as usual! The food was scrumptious…and the weather was gorgeous!

Conference Client 
Conference Client

I would not change a thing! Your staff was not only professional, but warm and caring. They truly set the tone for a memorable night. The food was delicious…our family and friends left with hearts and bellies full!

Catering Client 
Catering Client

I just wanted to thank you so much for all the delicious food at Duke. Your food was such a happy and positive experience and it made the days there so much more enjoyable to eat healthy, but tasty, great food.

Client 
Client

Thanks for the delicious soup and the new harvest salad – and thanks for removing half the calories out of the Farm Basket brownie…haha.

Resident 
Resident

THANK YOU for your help today with the open house! Our visiting families raved about the personalized environment. We had a student tell us that Guilford went from his 3rd to 1st choice!

Administrator 
Administrator

Thank you for all of your hard work on the meals and breaks for the Alumnae Board. The food was outstanding; everyone raved about each meal. Favorites included the grits on Saturday morning and the butternut squash soup on Sunday. YUM!!!

Administrator 
Administrator

The amazing characteristic is that, on a day by day basis, you give us nutritious, varied, interesting, delicious food…not just something special for company. Please know how much you are appreciated and loved by this community.

Conference Administrator 
Conference Administrator