Healthy Lasagna Recipe

This simple recipe substitutes in sweet potato for pasta sheets

Better health starts in the kitchen, so it helps if you know how to cook – and there’s an easy way to do it. By mastering the techniques in a handful of simple recipes, you’ll be prepared for anything involving a knife and a pan. Grab an apron – it’s time to go to culinary school with chef Adam Grey

Step away from the ready-meal aisle. Lasagna might have the whiff of intimidation about it, but it’s actually a dish that’s simple enough to make, and arguably better when reheated a day or two after you make it. This recipe substitutes sweet potato for starchy carbs, but you don’t have to leave the swaps there – once you’ve tried it once or twice, sub in turkey or lamb for the beef mince, and experiment with the cheese ratios for a solid hit of protein.

Key Skills

Crush it

How much flavor garlic gives your dish depends on how you prep it: the more cells you rupture, the more potent it gets. Full cloves are bland and even slicing doesn’t do much; crushing with a press or the flat of a knife makes things more pungent, but for ultimate intensity invest in a microplane, which finely minces your cloves for a serious flavour punch.

Slice it fine

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. Coach

In this recipe, you’re replacing sheets of pasta with sweet potato, and thickness is key: make them too hefty, and they’ll be too crunchy by the end of the cooking time. To make thin-slicing easier, get yourself a full-size chef’s knife and keep it sharp – five minutes on a whetstone every couple of weeks will do the trick.

Know your herbs

Chefs will tell you fresh herbs are better than dried, and they’re mostly right – but sometimes it’s fine to reach for the jar. Herbs that flourish in hot, dry climates contain flavor compounds that stay stable at high temperatures. Basil is best used fresh but with dried oregano, bay leaves, sage or rosemary you’ll notice little difference once they’re cooked.

Why cook with…

Beef

Disregard the red meat scare stories – the ones linked with carcinogenic effects are talking about the processed kind, not raw beef. Good-quality mince is packed with vitamin B12, zinc, selenium and iron, as well as 36g of protein per 100g.

Garlic

There’s some evidence that the more you smash your garlic, the better it is: chopping activates alliinase enyzymes, which will eventually convert to allicin – a sulphur compound linked to keeping blood pressure under control.

Sweet potatoes

The sweet potato vs “real” potato war isn’t as clear-cut as you think: the former are far higher in vitamin A (438% of your RDA as opposed to, er, none) but otherwise it’s a nutritional near-tie. They’re also a good source of slow-burn energy, making them an ideal sub for higher-GI carbs.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean, organic minced beef
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into 2-3mm discs
  • 1 and 1/4 cup chunky tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup low-fat natural yogurt
  • mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ bunch of fresh basil leaves, stalks removed and finely chopped
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Ground white pepper

How To Make

Heat a large thick-based sauce pan to a medium heat. Add the rapeseed oil and then the onions and garlic. Cook the onions and garlic for three to four minutes without letting them brown. Add the minced beef, making sure you break it up as it cooks using a wooden spoon or spatula so that it browns evenly. Continue cooking for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the passata and mix thoroughly.

Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer gently for ten minutes, then add a good splash of Worcestershire sauce and the chopped basil, mixing thoroughly. Season and remove from heat. Spoon some of the beef mixture into a shallow ovenproof baking dish, so that it completely covers the bottom.

Place the discs of the raw sweet potato on top of the beef mixture, ensuring that it completely covers the beef mixture. Repeat the process so that you have two layers of beef mixture and two of sliced sweet potato, then finish with a layer of beef on top. Cover the top layer of beef with yogurt, and then scatter the grated cheese over the top. Place the lasagne in a preheated oven at 350°F.

Written by Joel Snape for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.