Broccoli Three Cheese Lasagna

Today, in addition to bestowing upon the internet the gift of an amazing Broccoli Three-Cheese Lasagna that might just become your family’s new favorite vegetarian pasta dish, I’m trying a little something new on the blog. For kicks, and because as a nutritionist I care about providing (reasonably) healthy recipes, I’ve decided that moving forward, I’d really like to include nutrition information with my recipes. Also because I’m curious. So today, for this lovely lasagna, I’ve included a nutrition facts label for your perusal.

Adding up actual counts of calories, fat, sodium, etc. can feel like a bit of a peeking-through-your-fingers potential train wreck, like “oh nooooooo, I’m eating WHAT? Why did you have to tell me that?”

But I do (usually) want to know what I’m putting into my body–and I want YOU to know, too.

I’m starting with this particular Broccoli Lasagna recipe because, in its original form via Real Simple, this homemade comfort food classic contained a whopping 833 calories, 56 grams of fat, and 1,500mg of sodium–even with vegetables in place of meat. I shudder to think about the nutrition facts for restaurant lasagna. Actually….let’s go there. Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico will set you back 930 calories, 53 grams of fat, and 2,070 mg of sodium! (For reference, your daily intake of sodium should be below 2,400 mg. Good luck only eating 300 mg of sodium in the entire rest of your day!)

As delicious as the original version of this recipe might have been, it really didn’t need to be so heavy, and with a few changes to slim it down, it’s still plenty rich. With a bit less cheese and a more portion-controlled 5 servings instead of 4, this lighter incarnation contains 586 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 1,245 mg sodium. High in sodium, yes, but with fat and calorie counts I can feel good about with a one-dish-meal dinner. Especially one that combines the Italian nirvana of tender pasta and ooey-gooey stretchy cheese with the nutritional powerhouse of broccoli.


Print Recipe
Broccoli Three Cheese Lasagna
Stretchy mozzarella, tender lasagna noodles, savory sauce, and plenty of broccoli make this a one-dish delight.
Course Main Dish, pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Course Main Dish, pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using fresh broccoli, steam in a microwave-safe dish by adding a few tablespoons water, covering with a lid, and microwaving 2-4 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. If using frozen, thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place steamed or thawed broccoli in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (but not pureed).
  2. In a large bowl, mix chopped broccoli, ricotta, 1 c. mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir half and half into marinara sauce.
  4. Assemble lasagna: in an 8-inch square baking dish, spoon a thin layer of sauce. Top with two noodles, a quarter of remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture. Repeat twice. Top with the remaining two noodles and sauce. Sprinkle the top with remaining 1/4 c. mozzarella and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan.
  5. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Inspired by (but heavily adapted from) Real Simple.

Share this Recipe

Spaghetti with Tuna, Basil, and Lemon

Quick nutrition question: what do you know about omega-3 fatty acids? My guess is there are a few bits of info that probably come to mind when you think of omega-3s:

  • they’re found in fish, walnuts, certain oils, and other foods
  • alternatively, you can take them in pills that are pretty pricey and can tend to give you fishy burps
  • they’re somehow supposed to be good for you, despite how unappealing the term “fatty acid” may sound

But have you ever wondered what exactly they are and why they’re good for you?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. They are referred to as “unsaturated” because of their chemistry: the carbon in the fat is not “saturated” with hydrogen molecules surrounding it (as in, it contains less than the maximum number of bonds possible–when the maximum number of bonds are attached, it becomes “saturated”). Also, fun fact: like other unsaturated fats, omega-3 is liquid at room temperature, so if you could buy it in pure form at the store, you’d find it alongside the oils. Fill the carbons up with those hydrogen bonds, though, and you’ll get solid-at-room-temperature saturated fat, as in butter.

The reason these particular fats have the name “omega-3” is also chemistry-related. There is a double bond between carbon and hydrogen on the carbon molecule third from the end (called the “omega”–you know, like “the Alpha and the Omega,” i.e. “the beginning and the end”) of the chemical chain. So, if it helps you, think of omega-3s as the “third from the end” fats. I do!

So, what are these fatty acids supposed to do for us, and why should we care? Evidence-based research shows that omega-3s help reduce inflammation in the body–always good for protecting our hearts from heart attacks and our brains from strokes, among other benefits–and may also lower blood pressure and triglycerides. Some studies have also shown them to have a cumulative positive effect on cognition.

For my part, I’d rather get my omega-3s through tasty foods than through pills (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking them in pill form). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend eating 8 oz. of fatty fish each week, which breaks down to about two servings. And I’ve got a recipe for one for you right here.

This Mediterranean-inspired Spaghetti with Tuna, Basil, and Lemon is a delicious source of those all-important 3s, as it’s packed not only with tuna, but a good dose of olive oil. And, like any other meal, this one is a sum of multiple nutrition parts, which includes whole grains in the spaghetti, immunity-boosting raw garlic, and a respectable chunk of calcium in the form of Parmesan cheese. Not only that, but it’s a super easy, flavorful dinner that can be thrown together in 30 minutes or less with inexpensive ingredients.

I’d say that’s a good deal for your heart, your brain, your stomach, and your wallet!


Print Recipe
Spaghetti with Tuna, Basil, and Lemon
An easy Mediterranean-inspired pasta packed with omega-3s and bright flavors.
Instructions
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil, lemon zest, minced garlic, Parmesan, tuna, and basil. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

Share this Recipe

Easy Prosciutto Lasagna

Easy Prosciutto Lasagna

Lasagna is like Superman. It’s a superhero of deliciousness with one fatal flaw: it’s so dang much work to make. Granted, I still make it pretty often because, hey, who can resist noodles, cheese, and sauce baked into bubbly layers of Italian indulgence? Not I! But sometimes wouldn’t it be nice to get the end result with a little less prep time pre-cooking filling and pre-boiling noodles?

Fortunately, there is a way!

This easy prosciutto lasagna makes use of no-boil noodles, ready-to-use cured meat, and cheesy filling whipped together in a food processor so that the stovetop stays off and the oven gets used only for baking the assembled product. It’s as no-cook as lasagna gets…which leaves me with no excuse not to make it, especially since it reheats well for leftovers and also happens to be majorly tasty. (I mentioned the red pepper-infused cheese filling that perfectly complements the salty prosciutto, right?) For a comfort food classic that comes together faster than you can say “kryptonite”–or at least faster than most other lasagnas–this one’s a real superhero.

Easy Prosciutto Lasagna

Easy Prosciutto Lasagna
(Adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

5 garlic cloves
16 oz. cottage cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, divided
2 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 egg
1 26-oz. bottle tomato-basil pasta sauce
No-boil lasagna noodles (the number will depend on the type of noodles you use; I use 12 of Barilla’s flat sheets)
4 oz. thinly-sliced prosciutto
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Process garlic in the bowl of a food processor until minced. Add cottage cheese and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 2Tbsp. Parmesan, basil, red pepper, and egg and process until well blended.
  3. In the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, spread 1/2 c. pasta sauce. Arrange lasagna noodles to cover sauce (number of noodles will depend on brand and size). Top with 1 cup of cheese mixture, then 1/3 of the prosciutto, then 3/4 c. pasta sauce. Repeat layers two additional times (noodles, cheese, prosciutto, pasta sauce). Top with one last layer of noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan and the mozzarella.
  4. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and continue baking another 15 minutes. Let lasagna stand at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Serves 8.

Tomato-Corn Risotto with Shrimp

Tomato-Corn Risotto with Shrimp

Yesterday on my A Love Letter to Food Facebook page, I got a notification that read something like this: “You haven’t posted anything in five days. That means your followers haven’t heard from you in almost a week! Post now!!! (Or your readers will start to riot in the streets! Or jump off of bridges! Or you’ll be forever cast upon the trash heap of their minds!)” I may have embellished that last part. But it really kinda stressed me out. Like social media pressure has become the new peer pressure…and it’s not even from real people–it’s just a Facebook robot. “Keeping up with the blogging Joneses.” Thaaaaaaaanks, Facebook.

Anyway, this post is not a response to that nudge. (Or maybe, subconsciously, it is?) I’ve been wanting to share this summery risotto recipe for awhile. I knew it was good when my husband suggested I create a sidebar on the blog called “Husband-Approved Favorites” and put this on it. The man doesn’t even like shrimp and he literally ate the leftovers of this for breakfast. I was shocked. But I had to agree it was delicious–the mix of corn, tomato, and basil offering the flavor package of summer in a bowl. (The good kind of summer, like running-through-the-sprinklers-with-a-4th-of July-parade-rolling-by, not the get-me-out-of-this-face-melting-inferno kind we experience in Phoenix.)

SONY DSC

So perhaps the timing of posting this risotto now is serendipitous, because it reminds me in the wake of Facebook robot peer pressure that, like risotto, good things take time. I’ve been on a blogging roll last month, but it’s probably not sustainable. I’m never going to be the kind of food blogger who posts five times a week. (Let’s face it, I can’t get my family to NOT eat that many things long enough to take pictures of them.) As much as I enjoy food blogging, I’m not ready for it to take over my life. There are more important things in life than giving to the pressures of Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/OtherFoodBloggersAreCoolerThanYou.com. I can stand to go five days without posting on Facebook, and so can my (small group of) readers. So thanks for reading, whoever you may be, and give this recipe a try when you’re feeling summery–in a good way.

SONY DSC

Tomato-Corn Risotto with Shrimp

Ingredients:

6 c. vegetable broth, low-sodium preferred
2 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed
shrimp
1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, quartered
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonaded
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, heat vegetable broth over medium-low heat until warm.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté about 3 minutes until translucent. Add rice and stir to coat with the butter. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

3. Ladle about 2 c. of the warmed broth into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes. Continue ladling broth into rice mixture about 3/4 c. at a time, cooking 3-5 minutes after each addition and continuing to stir occasionally, until liquid is absorbed. Add corn and shrimp to the skillet with the final addition of broth.

4. While the rice is simmering, combine grape tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

5. After final addition of broth is absorbed, add Parmesan and cream to the skillet and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and fold in the tomato-basil mixture. Top with any additional basil and serve immediately.

Serves 5.

Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles with Tofu

It’s rare that one dinner gets made twice in two weeks at our house–or even twice in a month. I’m too fond of variety (and of trying new recipes) for that to happen very often. But every once in awhile a dinner recipe comes along that makes me want to make it EVERY. DAY. Like these spicy pan-fried noodles with tofu:

I gave these a try a couple of weeks ago on a Friday when our family was gathered around the TV for our semi-monthly Family Movie Night. It’s kind of a shame I was in the kitchen cooking during part of the movie, because it was Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the Second Dimension. I may have mentioned before that Phineas and Ferb is, in my opinion, the greatest kids’ show of all time. I’ve actually thought about getting on Twitter just so I could stalk follow Dan Povenmire, one of the show’s creators. Anyway, since I made this delicious meal to the sounds of the movie in the background, I now associate the tantalizing blend of lime, brown sugar, and Sriracha with the voice of Dr. Heinz Doofenschmirtz (AKA the best character in the best kids’ show of all time).

Fast forward two weeks to our next Family Movie Night. I had been craving these noodles so much since the Phineas and Ferb movie night, I decided to bend my usual rules and make them again. Now I’m going to associate their taste with a combination of Dr. Doofenschmirtz and Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow, because this time around we watched The Wizard of Oz. So that’s a weird mental picture.

Regardless, I stand by my fortnight-long craving for these spicy noodles and tofu. They are absolutely restaurant quality, like something you’d get at Pei Wei (and then order every time you go there from here to eternity, like I do with their honey-seared chicken). For little ones or picky palates, the spice level can be adjusted by scaling back the Sriracha. I also realized after making this twice that it happens to be vegan. So there’s that, too, if that floats your boat. Or if it doesn’t, forget I said it and enjoy this meal for the spicy-sweet deliciousness it is!

Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles with Tofu
(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients:

1/4 c. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha, adjustable to taste
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. vegetable or peanut oil, divided
14 oz. extra-firm tofu, pressed as dry as possible and sliced into 3/4 inch cubes
5 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 1/2 inch long matchsticks
1/4 c. shallot, minced
16 oz. cooked Udon noodles*
2-3 c. green cabbage, thinly sliced

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, Sriracha, minced garlic, and 2 Tbsp. water. Set aside.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tofu, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until golden brown on all sides, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Off the heat, add another 1 Tbsp. oil to the pan. Return to heat and add sliced carrots, cooking and stirring occasionally 3-5 minutes or until tender and browned in spots. Transfer to bowl with the tofu.

4. Off the heat, add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to the pan. Add shallot and return to heat, sauté about 1 minute, then add cooked noodles. Saute 2-3 minutes until noodles have browned in spots. Stir the sauce and carefully add it to the pan. Toss well to coat and cook and stir until the sauce reduces to a sticky glaze, about 2 minutes.

5. Return tofu and carrots to the pan. Add sliced cabbage and toss until heated through.

Serves 4.

*To make preparation faster and easier, consider using microwavable steam-pack noodles such as these:

Microwave while carrots are cooking in the skillet–voila! Instant cooked noodles!