Low sodium vegetable lasagna

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

We try to stay under 150 mg of sodium per meal so lasagna is tough because of the cheese alone. Mozzarella cheese has about 180 mg of sodium in just one ounce! So I skipped the mozzarella entirely for this lighter, vegetarian, low sodium lasagna but kept the creaminess by using a mixture of nonfat greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, and sour cream. It has all the right flavors and textures and comes in at just 600 mg of sodium for an entire 9x13 inch casserole dish (or 50 mg per 1/12 serving, 75 mg sodium per 1/8 serving).


Servings: 12 servings Sodium: 50 mg per serving Time: 2 hours


Tomato sauce ingredients:

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced unsalted tomatoes

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil (or 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped)

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

small pinch bonito flakes (optional)

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


Yogurt ricotta sauce ingredients:

1 1/4 cups nonfat greek yogurt (Fage nonfat yogurt has 65 mg sodium per 3/4 cup)

3/4 cup ricotta cheese (Galbani ricotta cheese has 65 mg of sodium per 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg


Remaining ingredients:

12 ounces (dry) lasagna noodles, cooked according to package (no bake lasagna doesn't work well for this recipe, see below in step 5)

75 grams Swiss cheese (about 2.7 ounces, 3-4 slices)

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped

2 medium yellow onions plus oil (to be caramelized)

1 pound mushrooms, sliced thin

1 large zucchini, diced in 1/4 inch pieces

2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnishing

Optional Panko topping: 1/4 cup toasted Panko breadcrumbs


1) Caramelize the onions - caramelized onions give this lasagna so much flavor, so this is something I wouldn't skip. You can even make the caramelized onions a few days in advance and refrigerate until you're ready to use.


I make quick caramelized onions in just 30 minutes using this method I learned from America's Test Kitchen 100 Techniques: cut two onions lengthwise and transfer to a large 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add about 3 tablespoons cooking oil, and about 3/4 cup of room temperature water. Cover and cook over high heat until the water evaporates. The onions should be soft at this point. Once the water has evaporated, remove the cover and press the onions into the pan, let them sit for 30-60 seconds in the pan to brown, and then stir with a silicon spatula, scraping up the browned bits. Repeat this process of pressing the onions into the pan, waiting a minute, and then stirring until the onions are caramelized. If the onions are browning too fast, turn the heat down. And if after 60 seconds they're not browning on the edges, turn the heat up. This whole process takes about 30 minutes.



2) Make the tomato sauce - in a small saucepan, combine all tomato sauce ingredients EXCEPT for the balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. Simmer for 15 minutes and then turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. If using dried basil, add it to the sauce along with all the other ingredients before simmering. Remove the bay leaf before using.


3) Make the yogurt ricotta sauce - combine all the ingredients for the yogurt ricotta sauce in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. This sauce can also be made in advance and refrigerated. If it's gotten thick in the refrigerator, stir in 2-3 tablespoons hot water before using.



4) Prepare the vegetable filling - sauté each of the vegetables separately until soft and set aside. Substitute whatever vegetables you like of have on hand. Just make sure to cook them until they're soft (not mushy, just soft), and then squeeze out any excess water before adding to the lasagna.



5) Assemble and bake - preheat the oven to 375°F. In a 9x13 inch (3 quart) casserole dish, assemble the lasagna in this order. There are 4 layers of sauce, 3 layers of noodles, 2 layers of yogurt ricotta and vegetables, and just one layer of Swiss cheese so keep that in mind as you assemble each layer. Here's how it goes:


Sauce - noodles - yogurt ricotta - vegetables

Sauce - noodles - yogurt ricotta - vegetables - swiss cheese

Sauce - noodles - sauce


Start and finish with the sauce because this lasagna doesn't have any cheese piled on top, so you need enough sauce to cover the top layer of noodles. The sauce at the bottom and middle layers can be just a thin layer because all the liquids will drip down so there's no concern that the bottom or middle layers will be dry. If you don't leave enough sauce to cover the top layer, it will be very dry. That's why no-boil noodles don't work well in this lasagna--there's not enough liquid (cheese, really) on top to cook that top layer. If you want to use no-boil noodles, I would skip the top layer of noodles and bake according to the directions on the box. The no boil noodles will need to bake a little longer.


Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into the lasagna. I like to leave it for an hour to let it set before I cut into it. It will still be warm and won't get too runny.


Top with chopped parsley or basil, or toasted Panko bread crumbs (1/2 cup has 35 mg sodium).



NOTES/TIPS:


-If you have room for more sodium, you'll get more bang for your buck by adding more Swiss cheese. It has about 1/3 the sodium of mozzarella, melts really nicely, and adds a lot of flavor (especially if there are mushrooms in the lasagna). I tried adding 1/4 cup mozzarella to the top and there was really no noticeable difference in flavor. I think you'd need to add at least 3/4 cup of mozzarella to taste the difference but that almost doubles the sodium content. You could also add an egg to the yogurt ricotta mixture for more flavor, or substitute more ricotta for yogurt. When baking cheese on the top layer, cover with parchment paper and then foil so the cheese doesn't stick to the foil.

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