Lasagna is usually quite the indulgent meal. Not often eaten regularly at the dinner table. Made on many holidays or special occasions. So many different varieties are out there but making it lighter to enjoy more often is what you have here today in this recipe.
Not only is this still hearty and full of flavor, but it is considerably lighter in calories and fat than typical lasagna. If you don't have a crock pot, instructions include making it in the oven.
I've made this twice now in the crock pot. The first time with ground beef instead of ground turkey and using a no boil gluten free lasagna noodle. The taste was fantastic but the noodles fell apart into a mushy mess. So the second time I made this I lightened it up even more using ground turkey, reduced the cheese and the hubby said it was still just as good! The kids loved it too!
Now most of you know I'm full blooded Italian and switching up the ricotta cheese to.....(eeek and cringe, don't tell my mother!) low fat cottage cheese ......was really hard for me to do, but it really lightens lasagna up and taste is not effected I promise. 🙂
The noodles I chose are linked below in the recipe and yes, require you to cook them before assembling them in the crock pot, but it is worth the effort! They never fell apart and as you can see from the pictures they stack up and hold their form well with lots of other ingredients in the mix.
Another adaption you can make if your family doesn't like spinach is to just leave it out of the cheese mixture. I love to get in our greens and the kids love spinach! You are the best judge of what your kids will eat so adapt as you like. You can also cut the slices into more servings for less calories, but the 8 servings here makes this a nice hearty piece. Enjoy!
Lightened Up Crock Pot Lasagna [Gluten Free]
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste ( I used Hunt's with basil, garlic, oregano)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups low fat cottage cheese or use ricotta
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- ½ cup egg whites or use 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups chopped fresh packed spinach
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella part skim
- 9 cooked brown rice lasagna noodles I used Tinkyada
- Heat oil in skillet, add turkey, garlic and onion and cook until turkey is browned and no longer pink.
- Pour in marinara sauce, tomato paste and cinnamon.
- Cook another minute or so then set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together cottage cheese, Parmesan, egg whites, salt and spinach. Set aside.
- Spray the inside of your crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add a small amount of meat sauce over the bottom of the crock pot.
- To Assemble in Crock Pot:
- Place 3 noodles over the sauce.
- Spread half the cottage cheese spinach mixture over the noodles.
- Spread a third of the meat sauce, sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Place 3 more noodles, the rest of the cottage cheese spinach mixture, a third more meat sauce and ½ cup of mozzarella.
- Final layer: Place last 3 noodles, the rest of the meat sauce and top with the final ½ cup of mozzarella.
- Cover and cook on low 3 hours.
To bake in oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare recipe in a 9 by 13 baking dish, but do not add final ½ cup of cheese. Bake for 45 minutes uncovered, then add final mozzarella cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is nicely melted.