Monday, 8 February 2016

Meat Free Monday: Spinach, Ricotta and Courgette-Pasta Lasagne

Healthy eating and sticking to a daily 1200 calorie count has its ups and downs. Weight is slowly but surely coming off of me, but my hungry, greedy little mind craves comfort food.

This recipe was born of one too many late-work finishes and wanting something substantial, filling and utterly delicious to look forward to for dinner - that ticked the comfort food box too.

By substituting the usual lasagne pasta sheets for ribbons of courgette instead, over 350 calories were saved overall and the below, which serves two comes in at 425 calories a portion. I must stress this low calorie portion is only realistic if you stick to the ingredient weights below.

This is a great vegetarian dish for a Meat Free Monday; however, if cooking for vegetarians, swap the Grana Padano cheese for another hard cheese that is suitable for vegetarians. Also if you're not keen on spice, simply omit from using the chilli flakes in the ricotta mix - but I love the added heat they bring - plus spicy chilli speeds up the metabolism. Win, win.

Also you can of course make your own tomato and basil sauce but I made this last night at 8pm after a long day and so used a hack - a jar of Lloyd Grossman's sauce - incidentally dinner was on the table in 30 minutes.

Meat Free Monday: Spinach Ricotta and Courgette-Pasta Lasagne

Here's how:
  • 250g ricotta
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • 1 350g jar of Lloyd Grossman's Tomato & Basil Sauce (or alternative) 
  • 150g spinach
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • 60g Grana Padano or alternative hard cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 Light Olive Oil spray

Firstly make the ricotta sauce by adding the olive oil spray to a pan on a medium heat. Crush the garlic and add to the pan with the dried chilli flakes. After a couple of minutes add the ricotta and two thirds (40g) of the cheese use a wooden spoon to mix till the consistency gets slightly wetter and moveable. Grate over a generous amount of nutmeg, season with black pepper to taste and a pinch of salt and set aside off the heat.

Now cut the ends off of the courgettes, then using a vegetable peeler, create thin ribbons of courgette, lengthways.

Now it's time to assemble the lasagne. Start by placing a couple of spoonfuls of the tomato sauce at the bottom of your dish and spread with the back of the spoon. Next place a third of the spinach on top scattered to cover the dish. Now it's for the courgette ribbons, ensure every bit of spinach is covered so your end result is clear, beautiful, vibrant layers. 

Courgette Pasta layer of lasagne

The ricotta mixture needs to go on top of the courgettes and as they are obviously a lot flimsier than pasta sheets, I found the best way to get an even spread to cover all of the courgettes, was to use a pastry brush. You want to layer up three times, so use a third of the ricotta mix. Now top with another couple of tablespoons of the tomato sauce and then repeat till you have three layers.

For the topping, simply finely slice a tomato and place across the top then scatter the remaining 20g of cheese all over.

Place into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and tomato sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Spinach Ricotta and Courgette-Pasta Lasagne

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