People often ask us where we get our recipe inspiration. Well, it comes from two places: We either see a recipe that looks great but could use a makeover (perhaps simple or perhaps extreme) or the idea comes out of left field! The inspiration for this family-pleasing apple squash lasagna actually came from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network. (We saw the recipe online; it’s not as though Giada called us on the phone and said, “Hey Moms. Can you slim down my recipe a bit?) Giada’s recipe looked mighty good but we weren’t thrilled with all the butter, full-fat cheese, and amaretti cookies that she called for in the dish. So we got to work and lightened things up with part-skim mozzarella cheese and 1% low-aft milk, and we added some convenience by using frozen winter squash. As for the sweetness, we got that from the apple.
Sweet Apple & Squash Lasagna
Makes 8 Servings
We’ve never made a roux with basil pesto before, but wow, it really worked out great. The pesto adds a big burst of flavor to the lasagna, and we love the convenience. Janice grew a lot of basil in her garden this summer and used it to make pesto (you can freeze leftovers in ice cube trays).
1/4 cup basil pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (one 8-ounce box)
One 12-ounce box frozen cooked pureed winter squash, thawed, placed in a bowl and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste (if you have fresh squash on hand, you can use it instead!)
1 medium apple, quartered, peeled, and very thinly sliced
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the pesto and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat, simmer, and stir until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
2. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles evenly on top of the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the winter squash and 1/3 of the sliced apples over the noodles. Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 3/4 cup sauce.
3. Repeat layering two more times. Top with the remaining 3 noodles and the remaining 1 cup sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese evenly over the lasagna. Return to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 more minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 380 calories, 15g fat (5g saturated), 410mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 18g protein, 40% calcium, 10% vitamin C, 10% iron
FYI: Giada’s recipe has 450 calories, 22 grams fat, and 11 grams saturated fat per serving. You can read all the gooey details about our makeover by visiting our blog.
Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD are The Meal Makeover Moms, and together, they’re on a mission to help busy families eat better. For more recipes, check out their new cookbook, No Whine with Dinner. You can also read their blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen or listen to their weekly podcast, Cooking with the Moms.
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