Lasagne is the king of comfort food. A real treat and for everybody tracking macros, a nightmare to fit into a diet. Our mission was to change this, add protein and lots of veggies without losing too much of the typical, cheesy lasagne feeling. And we are proud to say we managed to pull this off! Enjoy the Lifter’s Lasagne!
There aren’t many things as tempting as a tray of bubbling lasagne. That gooey, incredibly inviting texture. The typical smell of catching cheese, meat and tomato. Incredible. I think we need more of this in our lives.
Sadly lasagne is quite difficult to fit into a diet, pushing it out of reach for most trainees and other people who want to improve their body composition. So we looked at a traditional recipe (thanks Jamie ❤ ), analysed it, and came to the conclusion that this can be quite easily modified for our needs.
Essentially we up the amount of veggies, use pasta consciously, and trim fat where possible without compromising too much on flavour. Easy peasy!
A little disclaimer before you jump right into it. Get a helping hand. Lasagne is quite a lot of work to do. Nothing crazy, but just a lot of finely cutting veggies and preparing the bechamel sauce. Take your time with it, this is proper soul food and greatly benefits from the love you put into it.
You can prepare the ragu and the bechamel sauce the day before (or even two days before) or spread them out over a few days. You can even put the lasagne together and keep it “raw” in the fridge or freezer and just put it in the oven on the day you need it. Of course, you could also make your own pasta, something we did not try yet, but we are planing to in our quest to create the perfect ramen.
As much as we love to use spices, Italian cooking is about leaving unnecessary things out and putting focus on the main ingredients. So don’t overdo the spices, be especially careful with clove and nutmeg for the bechamel sauce. We allowed ourself to add some smoked paprika though, because we felt we need something to make up for the lack of pancetta.
For the lasagne:
- 300g Lasagne sheets (we used wholemeal spelt, but feel free to use what you like)
- 1kg Chicken breast (preferably minced)
- 700g Carrots
- 15g Olive oil
- 20g Parmesan
- 690g Passata
- 500g Minced beef
- 250g Dried red lentils
- 400g Cellery stalks
- 100g Tomato concentrate
- 400g Onions
- Oregano, rosemary, smoked red paprika
For the bechamel sauce:
- 30g Butter
- 75g Flour
- 1l Low fat milk (0.9% fat)
- 40g Parmesan
- 100g Onions
- 100g Cellery stalks
- Nutmeg, cloves, bay leaves
For the ragu:
- Peel the onions and finely dice them. Also dice up the carrots and cellery stalks (set aside the amount needed for the bechamel sauce). Put a large baking tray over a medium heat and warm the olive oil. Add the diced veggies and let them soften up and take some colour.
- If you have to make the minced chicken yourself, cut it into small cubes that fit into your food processor and mince it. Alternatively finely chop it up with a knife and some patience.
- Turn up the heat and add the minced beef and chicken. Stir and let it take some nice colour.
- Turn down the heat to medium, add the red lentils, tomato concentrate and passata. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook over low to medium heat until the lentils are soft and you are satisfied with the flavour and texture. Add water as needed and season with smoked red paprika. You want a ragu that is “spreadable” to make assemblage easy.
For the bechamel sauce:
- Warm the butter over low to medium heat. Add the finely cut onions and cellery stalks together with the bay leaves, salt and a little pepper. Let slowly cook until very tender and translucent without getting too much colour.
- Add the flour, stirring often until the flour starts sticking to the pan. Slowly incorporate the milk, little by little, always stirring. Adjust consistency with more milk or flour as needed.
- Turn off the heat, add the grated parmesan and season with ground cloves and nutmeg to taste.
Putting it all together:
- Preheat your oven to 200°C. Get a large, deep baking dish (37x29x8,5 cm), the ragu, bechamel, lasagne sheets and the remaining 20g of grated parmesan.
- Start with one layer of lasagne sheets, then proceed with layers of ragu, lasagne sheets and bechamel until everything is used up, ending with bechamel on top.
- Add the grated parmesan and sprinkle with rosemary. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden and bubbly.
- Leave to rest for about 15 minutes to allow to set and protect yourself from burning your mouth.
Makes 12 portions, each having the following macros:
- 45g Protein
- 45g Carbs
- 13,4g Fat
As you can see, the lasagne has really affordable macros even if you are dieting and, if you are not dieting, or if you need more protein, just take a bigger portion ;-). It is also very satiating and rewarding: Chantal didn’t even need something sweet after it! I can also imaging having a nice simple rucola, chopped fennel or other salad on the side to add some freshness and greens to it. Feel free to experiment with our recipe and do not forget to share your experience with us in the comment section below!
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