Who doesn’t love lasagna? It’s classic comfort food. The problem is, it can pack in the calories, fat, and sodium. The biggest problem with lasagna, in my opinion, is not the ingredients–those can be improved–but the portion. We fill that big ‘ole casserole dish to the brim with pasta-y, tomatoey, cheesey goodness. And when we serve it, we get the spatula down in there and cut out a walloping half-plate serving.
I’ve heard many a fitness/diet/healthy eating guru say that eating right doesn’t have to be about giving up all the foods you love, but in controlling how much of them you eat. But that’s so hard to do with the golden bubbling brown 13 X 9 casserole dish just begging you to take more…
While watching the Food Network the other day, I saw this tip for creating an amazing, cute-as-could-be, portion-controlled serving of lasagna:
Make individual servings of lasagna in little oven-safe ramekins!
Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?
Tried it today, and the results were ah-maze-ing!
I don’t think I even need to give a recipe–just use your favorite spaghetti sauce, whether from a jar or homemade (but do try to get a lower sodium version if store bought), your favorite lasagna noodles, cooked like normal (you’ll need only 1 or 2 noodles PER SERVING depending on the size of your noodles, more info below), your favorite lasagna filling (I used frozen spinach mixed with ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese).
Spray the sides and bottom of the oven-safe ramekins with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon just enough of your spaghetti sauce in to coat the bottom of the ramekin. Lay one cooked lasagna noodle across the ramekin and push down into the sauce. One is all you’ll need if you’re using very wide noodles.
If your noodles are narrower (or if you want to cut your wide noodles in half) make a cross in the ramekin. I like the cross method better because then all sides of the ramekin have noodle “walls.”
Spoon in about a tablespoon (or less) of the cheese mixture. Top with another dollop of spaghetti sauce, then fold over the ends of one noodle. Make another layer of filling and sauce, fold over the ends of the other noodle to cover. If your noodles are too long, just snip the ends off with clean kitchen scissors. Put another small spoon of cheese filling on, then another small dollop of spaghetti sauce, then a layer of grated parmesan cheese. I add a little mozzarella to mine for that top layer so it will melt and bubble and brown better.
Cook in oven on 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Adjust cooking time as needed for your size ramekin and thickness of cheese layers.
I like to serve it in the ramekin, but one friend did comment that it was a little harder to eat that way because the ramekin slid around the plate, and it was too hot to hold still with bare hands. On the Food Network, the chef was able to run a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin to make sure nothing was stuck and then slip it out onto a plate right-side up. Hers held together and made a perfect round little lasagna on the plate. I’ve tried that and mine always seem to fall apart. But oh well–it still tastes great, so serve however you like. I guarantee people will eat it.
One more thing…if you like veggie lasagna with eggplant, a circle of eggplant fits perfectly into most ramekins. Just grill or roast your eggplant to soften it, then add a slice to one or two of your layers.
Oh and one more, one more thing. Pyrex makes some cool little glass dishes about the size of a ramekin that have lids and are freezer safe. These individual servings freeze perfectly! Just follow all the steps except baking. When you’re building your layers, make sure not to overfill so that you can get the lid on. Then pop them in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, thaw on defrost in the microwave and then put in the oven. Do not go straight from freezer to a hot oven!