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Recipe Rescue: Lasagna

Lasagna has morphed from an Italian classic to an Americanized diet disaster. Typical recipes are filled with sausage and/or beef, carb-heavy noodles, plus gobs of ooey gooey cheese. We really don't need all that meat and cheese (translation: artery-clogging fat and waist-expanding calories). We may want it, but that's another story! I've cleaned up this recipe (sent to me by Cayla Waters of Urbana) and it's still cheesy and delicious. It's also reminiscent of another American/Italian favorite, pepperoni pizza. Buon appetito! (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable PDF version of the recipe!)

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Original Recipe Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 1 1/2 lb raw ground beef
  • 1 lb raw bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 5 oz package shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 2 (8 oz) packages mozzarella cheese

Nutrition Facts

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Changes Made:
  • 1 1/2 lb raw ground beef and 1 lb raw bulk Italian sausage: Replaced with 2-3 oz of turkey pepperoni
  • 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 2 teaspoons ground oregano, 1 teaspoon ground basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce, 6 oz can tomato paste: Replaced with 24 oz jarred spicy marinara sauce for convenience
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese: Switched to part-skim to save fat and calories
  • 5 oz package shredded Parmesan cheese: Used 4 oz (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley: Optional
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten: Reduced to 1 egg
  • 9 oven-ready lasagna noodles: Used 8 whole grain noodles for extra nutrition; instead of layering, made roll-ups (a psychological trick to make more identifiable units for portion control)
  • 2 (8 oz) packages mozzarella cheese: Decreased to 4 oz (1 cup) total
In summary:
    • Whole grain lasagna noodles
    • "Roll-ups" instead of layered squares
    • Mini turkey pepperoni instead of ground meat
    • Lower-fat dairy ingredients (and significantly less cheese used overall)
    • Switched to jarred tomato sauce for convenience

      Nutrition Facts Face-Off!

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      Zesty Pepperoni Lasagna Roll-Ups (Printable PDF Version)

      Serves 8



      • 8 whole grain lasagna noodles
      • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
      • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
      • 1 cup reduced-fat/part-skim shredded mozzarella, divided
      • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
      • 1 large egg
      • 2-3 oz turkey pepperoni minis (or regular sized, chopped) – about half of a 4 oz package
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • 24 oz jar spicy marinara sauce


      1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
      2. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions, cooking until slightly under-done.
      3. To make lasagna filling, mix together in a large bowl the ricotta, spinach, 2 oz (1/2 cup) mozzarella, 2 oz (1/2 cup) Parmesan, egg, and turkey pepperoni. Season liberally with freshly ground black pepper.
      4. In a 13x9" dish, make lasagna roll-ups by spreading about ¼ or 1/3 cup of filling mixture evenly across slightly undercooked noodles, then roll up. Arrange evenly in dish, with seam ends on bottom so they don't un-roll.
      5. Pour sauce evenly over the lasagna roll-ups. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top, then cover with foil.
      6. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes or until cheese on top is browning and bubbly.

      Serve with a side of steamed vegetables or a lightly dressed green salad.


      Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.