Adventures In Swapability

A true product of the good old Midwest, I find myself relying heavily on meat-centric meals during the cold winter months. But it’s National Nutrition Month – time to start lightening up my favorite meals and eating more vegetables.

Luckily, we are working closely with registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward who shared this healthy Almost Lasagna recipe with us. Here at the Channel, we are no strangers to adding mushrooms to dishes to up the nutritional content and we jump at the chance to ‘shroom up meals that usually don’t get enough mushroom love. Judging by the pantry-friendly ingredient list of this recipe and the fact that it calls for swapping a portion of beef with mushrooms, I thought it might deliver the perfect trifecta of easy, tasty and filling. (And fourth: healthy, but what is that… a quadfecta?)

Traditional lasagna feels so labor-intensive, but this recipe came together with minimal effort.

  • Chop mushrooms to look like meat? Check.
  • Cook ‘em like you would the beef? Easy-peasy (And a bit surprising because they really do look just like ground beef!)
  • Combine the cooked mushrooms and beef and add ‘em to the recipe? 1-2-3 and done.

Is there anything more comforting than freshly-made tomato sauce enveloping tender pasta and morsels of beefy mushrooms? I think not!

This time around, I followed the recipe pretty close to the letter. Granted, I love spicy food, so I added a pinch (or three) of red pepper flakes to punch up the flavors. While I’m partial to ground beef, this dish would be just as tasty with ground turkey or chicken or tofu if that’s more your flavor. You can even use no meat and all mushrooms! We’d love to hear how you adjust a recipe to suit your tastes.

Stay tuned for more “swapability” adventures as we amp up the nutrition of other favorite meals!

Recipe for Almost Lasagna (serves six)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound long fusilli pasta or linguine
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 8 ounces 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 28-oune can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons trans-fat free margarine
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook according to package directions.
  2. Chop mushrooms in ¼-inch pieces. Reserve.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, carrot, onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.
  4. Place ground beef in pan and cook over medium-high heat, breaking meat into very small bits. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Add the vegetable mixture to the beef in the skillet. Stir in the tomatoes, broth and basil; simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and parsley. Toss hot pasta with the margarine and return to skillet. Mix with meat sauce. To serve, scoop equal amounts of the ricotta into shallow bowls, top with pasta/sauce mixture.

Tip: Substitute firm tofu or 100% ground turkey breast meat for ground beef.





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