Lasagna is a sea of layers that melt so beautifully well together. As the Italians know best, tomatoes, pasta, herbs and cheese are four components destined to swim as a team in the culinary world.
Though, injure one of those teammates, and you’re in for a disappointing loss. Poor sauce = terrible lasagna. The wrong combination of cheeses = bland, not addicting results. Lack of herbs = an aggravating feeling that something is missing.
In order for lasagna to triumph, all of its key players need to be at the top of their game. Lasagna can take some effort to assemble, so you better pick your team wisely or it may not be worth your labor. (I’m still working to come up with a vegan version to take home a gold. This roasted veggie version comes pretty close, but I’m still not sure the tofu ricotta quite takes the cheese – especially if you’ve been exposed to top of the line, traditional versions. Although, I must say the caramelized layers of veggies are undoubtedly memorable.)
If you’re not quite ready to full-on delve into the world of lasagna-making – a commitment to truly master – then I suggest starting with this soup. I’ll admit, given a competitive situation, it wouldn’t beat my favorite lasagna. But when it’s significantly easier to assemble, and so much lighter and healthier, who cares. As Prevention RD states, this is one pot meal that comes together within 40 minutes. Easy. The dollop of cheese that goes with it truly makes the whole dish, so make sure to include that extra (but simple) step.
If there’s no time to prep the team needed of a lasagna worth making, or you simply want a pasta dish that won’t weigh you down, go give this a try. It’s a simpler, easier version of one my favorite oceans of flavor, a little bit of cheese included.
Slightly adapted from PreventionRd
- -2 tsp olive oil
- -12 oz vegetarian sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style so I could easly break it up into pieces while browning)
- -1 onion, chopped
- -3 garlic cloves, minced
- -2 tsp dried oregano
- -1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- -2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
- -1 (28 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- -2 bay leaves
- -6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- -8 oz broken up lasagna noodles or fusilli pasta
- -1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- -Black pepper, to taste
- -Salt, to taste
- Cheesy Dollop:
- -8 oz low fat ricotta cheese
- -1/4 tsp salt
- -Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- -1/3 cup 2% mozzarella cheese
- -1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add veggie sausage, breaking up into bite-size pieces and brown for 5-6 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and vegetable stock. Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cheesy dollop. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, salt, pepper, Parmesan and mozzarella. Stir to combine.
- Add the basil and pepper to the soup, and stir. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Drop a spoonful of the cheese dollop into the center, letting it partially sink to the bottom and melt.