Friday, May 13, 2011

Garfield's Favorite

Well hello there and happy freakily deakily Friday!! :) We made it!!!!


I don’t know what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks has been going on with blogger, but I am so sorry to you all for the “outages.” I guess they had to remove posts from the past 3 days to make things work again, and those look like they're finally back up, so if you're behind, you might get a triple dose today! 

As a follow up from yesterday (that is, if ANY of you were able to read the post), I am feeling back to normal today after a day of clean eating and a sweaty mess spin class.

You aren’t going to believe it, but I sat through a class with psycho trainer.  It’s the first time I’ve seen her since the last time I trained with her, so I was a little nervous.

All went well, other than that the first thing she said to me was “where have YOU been??” {insert eye roll}, and proceeded to lecture the class on what they should be eating throughout the day during the last 10 minutes. Her diet plan consists entirely of egg whites and plain grilled chicken breasts, so she would h.a.t.e. the recipe I’m about to share with you all! ;)

You’ll probably be shocked that after my Thursday morning pasta remorse, this week’s recipe is pasta-licious, but I wanted to show you that pasta CAN be done healthily. 

I never feel like a tubbawubba the morning after I’ve eaten a reasonable portion of homemade pasta (using whole wheat/whole grains).  It just goes to show you what a difference it can make when you cook your own dishes vs. going out/ordering carry out.

So, without further adieu, I am going to share with you my recipe for healthy(ish) spinach lasagna! 

Some of you might be thinking – lasagna is way too advanced for me, or – lasagna takes way too long.

Well, while I will point out that this recipe takes a bit more skill and preparation than, say, crock pot barbecue chicken, if you have the time on a random night or are having company/celebrating a special occasion, you should really give this one a try – it is seriously dummie-proof and it will impress! 

So here is the dealio…

Jessica’s Healthy(ish) Spinach Lasagna

What you will need:

8 ounces of whole wheat/whole grain lasagna noodles (I ended up using a total of 8 noodles)
1 pound turkey sausage, removed from casing
16 ounces of your choice of pasta sauce
1 bag of baby spinach (from pre-packaged salad area)
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp dried parsley flakes (or ½ cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley)
1 tbsp dried basil (or 3 tbsp of fresh chopped basil)
15-ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you should do:

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step #2: Begin cooking the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box (put your pot onto boil, and then layer the noodles in there!).

**Tip: Do NOT over cook your pasta!! The more al dente, the lower the glycemic index.  (After my pasta was in the pot, I let it cook for about 8 minutes, then removed it from the heat).

Step #3: Remove the turkey sausage from the casings, and start to brown it in a large skillet with some PAM.

This step tends to bring an audience:

Look at that silly nugget! :) 

Step #4: (While your sausage is cooking) Bring a large pan to medium-high heat on the stove. Add 1 tbsp of EVOO and 1 tsp of minced garlic.  Let this cook for about 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic turns golden brown.  Add the entire package of your pre-washed spinach, like so:

Let it cook until the spinach gets all wilt-y, like so:

I’m so technical! ;)

When you’ve reached this point, remove the spinach from the stove.

Step #5: Once your sausage is browned, dump the entire jar of pasta sauce in there, and mix ‘er all up! Remove from heat, and set it aside.

Step #6: In a medium-large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, parsley, basil, garlic salt, and pepper.  Stir it all up until the mixture is well-blended.

Now you’re ready to layer it!

Step #7: Spray an 11 inch x 13 inch glass pan (I use pyrex!) with cooking spray.

Step #8: Spread about 1/3 of the sausage/sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan.

**Tip: Use a relatively small amount, because you’re going to need some left for the top layer!

Step #9: Place 4 lasagna noodles down, length-wise across, in the pan.  Spoon ½ of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles, and carefully spread it across the noodles to make a layer.

Step #10: Place about ½ of your spinach on top of the cheese layer, like so:

Step #11: Pour & spread another 1/3 of the sauce mixture on top of the spinach, then layer the other 4 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.

Step #12: (Hang in there, we’re almost done!) Spread the other ½ of the cheese on top of the noodles, followed by the rest of the spinach, followed by the last of the sauce mixture.

Step #13: Now it’s time to cheese it up!! Sprinkle the 4 oz. of mozzarella evenly over the top, followed by the 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan.

Step #14: Put the pan, uncovered, into the oven, and let it cook for between 30 and 40 minutes until the cheese gets bubbly.

Justin said he “felt like Garfield” when this was cooking, lol.

I think I might have left ours in for about 5 minutes too long last night, because in this picture, the edges are looking a little burnt.  It looked better in person & tasted like a party in my mouth. Yummmmmie!

When it’s done, let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then slice it up and serve!

I think you can get 9 reasonably-sized portions out of this meal, guilt free.

We are about to have our leftovers right now! ;)

You can serve up your beautiful pasta creation with any wine of your choice, but I would go with a dry red, like Bogle Petite Sirah:

Good good stuff!

If you are looking for a fun little inside activity this weekend (it is supposed to be rainy & cold in Chicago, bummer city!), definitely give this meal a try.  It’s a bit of a challenge, but the payoff is big.

Feel free to email me at:, or comment below, if you have comments/questions.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! We have family coming in for my law school graduation on Sunday, and have plans to go to one of my favorite restaurants after the ceremony, so expect some fun pics on Monday.

Here’s a little teaser:

Yes, I’m gonna look like a complete dork!  But, I worked hard for that stooopid hat!




  1. oh my goodness congratulations on your graduation! Such an accomplishment! :)

    I do love lasagna :) especially spinach ones looks lovely! :)

  2. Thank you so so much! :) I'm excited!

    It is such a delish recipe! Good leftovers for days!