This is REAL lasagne… there are no (what I call) “fake” ingredients in this meal. In experimenting to reduce calories, I’ve tried all sorts of white sauce variations like quark (yuk), creme fraiche or yoghurt (too tangy), eggs (they scrambled) none of which I’ve been able to pass off to my family as “normal” lasagne. And using strips of vegetables instead of pasta in my household would get me in big trouble, they’d never trust me again…. This version is SO LOW CALORIE that it’s almost too good to be true, and the family didn’t notice!! The appreciation around the table was the same as usual, which makes for one happy mamma!
The key is to focus on maximising the efficiency in each element of the meal so that you don’t have to cut out what makes it so delicious.
There are two important secrets here; the first is to use my Ultimate Low Calorie Bolognese, which I hope you’ll have stashed in the freezer. Then another key is using a white sauce, or bechamel, that contains no butter but is still creamy and flavourful. When you use these two cornerstones, you can have real pasta, real cheese and even a side of garlic bread and you won’t blow your calorie budget for the day.
The size of dish is also important here. You want something that’s not too deep, and not too big. A dish that’s too deep will make you add more layers of pasta which just aren’t necessary. And a dish that’s too large will leave you with a flat lasagne that feels insubstantial. For 4 adults, I use a square dish measuring 9”x9” and is just over 1½“ deep.
Start by defrosting a 2 portion bag of my Ultimate Low Calorie Bolognese.
Then prepare your pasta. I use the oven ready dry lasagne sheets, and my dish is wide enough for three strips per layer. The strips are too long for my dish, but the trimmed ends fill the gaps beautifully. Next weigh out 100g or a loaded 1 cup measure of grated light cheese; I use a combination of half-fat mozzarella & cheddar cheeses.
Now you can begin to assemble the first layer of the lasagne. Cover the base of the dish with a thin layer of Bolognese sauce. Fit three strips of lasagne on top of the bolognese, using the trimmings to fill any gaps. Sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of the pasta sheets.
Now you’re ready to make the white sauce.
In a non stick saucepan put 30g of cornflour. Slowly blend in a quarter of the skimmed milk, whisking out any lumps that want to form, then add the rest of the milk and blend it in.
Add salt and pepper then slowly heat, whisking all the time. Be patient… when the sauce starts to thicken it’ll go quickly so get ready to lift the pot off the heat. Once thickened, pour just over a third of the sauce on top of the pasta sheets. Then dollop the rest of the meat sauce evenly around the whole dish, arrange the rest of the lasagne sheets and a little more cheese.
Now make sure the remaining white sauce is thick but pourable – add a splash of skimmed milk if necessary – and pour it all over the top of the lasagne. Top with the remaining grated cheese, a twist of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of dried oregano. At this point, when the lasagne is all assembled, you can refrigerate it till you’re ready to bake. If you’ve made this using a fresh batch of bolognese sauce then you could even freeze it to defrost and bake later (but if you’ve defrosted some bolognese to make the lasagne, don’t re-freeze it).
Place on a baking sheet and bake at 175°C / 350°F / Gas 4 for about 45 minutes. Till the top is nicely browned. A quarter of the finished lasagne is a mere 388 calories. I hope you have a go, and let me know if you fool your family as well 😉
RECIPE: Low cal lasagne 388 calories per portion
Serves 4. You will need a 2-person portion of my Ultimate Low Calorie Bolognese, and a 9″×9″ oven proof baking dish.
- 2 portions of my Ultimate Low Calorie Bolognese
- 30g (1.5 tbsp) cornflour
- 500ml skimmed milk
- 6 strips oven ready lasagne
- I00g (1 cup) grated light cheese (eg. a blend of light mozzarella and light cheddar)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Spread a thin layer of bolognese sauce in the base of the baking dish
- Trim the strips of lasagne to fit your dish, lining them up across the top of the bolognese. Use the trimmings to fill any gaps
- Sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of the dry pasta.
- Now make the white sauce: put the cornflour into a non-stick saucepan. Add a quarter of the skimmed milk and blend well to work out any lumps of flour, then blend in the rest of the milk.
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- Now heat the mixture over a medium low heat, stirring all the time until it starts to thicken. Be attentive at this point, because once it starts to thicken it can go very quickly!
- When the mixture is about the consistency of thin custard, remove it from the heat and spoon about a third of it over the dried pasta. cover as much of the pasta as you can, but don’t worry if it doesn’t reach right to the edge – be sure to save plenty for the top.
- Put the rest of the bolognese on top of the white sauce, dropping it over the whole dish.
- Arrange the remaining lasagne sheets on top of the bolognese, again using the trimmings to fill any gaps.
- Return the saucepan to the heat and stir thoroughly till it’s quite thick. If the sauce has gone lumpy while you were preparing the last layer, add a splash of milk to smooth it out and re-blend.
- When the sauce is really thick, but still smooth and pourable, pour it all over the top of the lasagne, smoothing it out to the edges.
- Sprinkle over the rest of the grated cheese, a twist or two of freshly ground black pepper and a dusting of dried oregano.
- Place the lasagne dish onto a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 175°C / 350°F / Gas 4 for 45 minutes or until the top is browned.
- Remove from the oven and rest for a minute or two before serving.