Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach and Basil
I’m going to get to this Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach and Basil in a minute, and tell you all about how it is only 259 calories per serving (which is about 77 calories less than most lasagna recipes.) I’m going to get to how there is a gluten-free variation that is arguably better than the whole-wheat version. And about how it’s layered with healthy satisfying vegetables and lean grass fed beef and fresh basil.
Why This Recipe is So Good!
This lasagna is one you will want to hang on to. It is a great healthier alternative to traditional beef lasagna because it is loaded with veggies including spinach and chopped mushrooms which help extend the meat a bit, so you end up needing less meat per serving.
Plus I added in spinach for even more veggie servings! And I added in lower fat dairy to save calories, but it is still hearty and delicious!
Today’s recipe for Beef Lasagna is my first of what I am predicting will be a long list of lasagna variations! Now that I have shared one lasagna, I want to make a billion different variations of lasagna for you guys! Update 2022: Now I have several including our Easy Vegetable Lasagna Primavera, our cozy Butternut Squash Lasagna and this Vegetarian Mushroom Lasagna.
Let’s talk about how to make this Healthy Beef and Spinach Lasagna with Basil shall we?
Tips for How to Make Healthy Beef Lasagna
Gluten-free or whole-wheat Lasagna Noodles:
- For this recipe I tested it with whole-wheat lasagna, and I also tested it with gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles. Either choice worked great, and the cooking and layering technique will not change.
- What you will notice is that the texture of the rice lasagna is actually on the softer side, and both my husband and I actually preferred it to the wheat version.
Tips for Texture:
To get the best texture, boil the pasta for only 5 minutes before layering it into the lasagna. This will soften it, but it will not be completely mushy by the time it is finished baking.
Cut Lasagna Noodles to Fit:
- Trim the pasta to make a complete layer. I did this by laying 3 across, and then filled in the bottom (like the foot of the bed) with a horizontal noodle, cut to fit.
- You don’t want to overlap the noodles because they stick together and become a solid hard mass of noodle which is unpleasant.
Which Kind Beef To Use For Lasagna:
- I used ground grass-fed beef because it’s a healthier choice and it is better for the environment. Grass fed beef is much leaner than grain fed beef, and has more Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and CLA which are important to our health.
- When in doubt choose “grass finished.”
- And it has a stronger flavor, which sometimes can be an issue, but in this case is an asset because the lasagna tastes like beef lasagna even though you’re getting less than an ounce per serving.
- As always, if you want to swap in turkey like in my Slow Cooker Bolognese, I say go for it!
Stealthy Mushrooms to Make it Healthier:
- I used 4 ounces of finely chopped mushrooms to bulk up the beef. My daughter who claims to not like mushrooms (I ignore this and feed them to her regularly by the way) didn’t even notice them. Same goes for my Healthy Sloppy Joes.
- The key is chopping them up in to little pieces.
- The benefit of replacing some of the beef with mushrooms is that it gives volume with very few calories. Plus mushrooms are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
- Instead of buying jarred sauce or taking the time to make sauce from scratch, I skipped that step entirely by using a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes.
- I added that right to the beef, and then stirred in the baby spinach.
- Making the beef, mushroom, tomato and spinach all one part of the mise en place really helped to make the process of assembling the lasagna a lot easier.
Lower Fat Cheese:
- I used part-skim ricotta and part-skim mozzarella to save on calories.
- I found that shredding the part-skim mozzarella by hand yielded a better texture on the top of the casserole than using pre-shredded bagged mozzarella.
- If you do want to use bagged mozzarella, just be careful in step 6 after you add on the last layer of cheese. You don’t want it to get brown at all. Since the cheese is lower in fat, it can get hard if you brown it.
Basil For Fresh Flavor:
I added in basil for freshness and flavor. This is the key to the yumminess of this lasagna. Don’t skimp on it. I used a half cup of chopped fresh basil. It really makes this taste so fresh and yummy.
Step by Step Photo
Make Ahead Notes
Yes, it be assembled up to one day in advance. Cover with foil and set in the refrigerator. Proceed with step 6 adding an extra 15 minutes of cook time before removing foil.
What To Serve with This Recipe
- Or my Overnight Kale Caesar would be a delicious accompaniment.
- Or a simple garden salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette would be good too.
- You could also make this homemade whole-wheat bread.
More Recipes You’ll Love:
- Butter Bean and Roasted Delicata Tartines by Honestly Yum
Vegetarian Sweet Potato Pad Thai on Will Cook For Friends
Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Turnips and Rutabaga on Brooklyn Supper
- If you love this Healthy Beef Lasagna, you may want to check out my Stuffed Shells with Spinach recipe, which is also a great make ahead casserole.
- Or my Oven Baked Meatballs with Parmesan are also decidedly cheesy and saucy and will hit that comfort food spot!
- This Spinach Stuffed Chicken is another great meal starring this favorite green!
- If you love spinach, try my Spinach Salad with Bacon and Eggs.
Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie
This Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach and Basil is only 259 calories per serving which is about 77 calories less than most lasagnas! It’s layered with healthy satisfying vegetables, lean grass fed beef and fresh basil making it the perfect kid-friendly dinner. And there is a gluten free version!
- 12 whole-wheat or gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles (8-oz)
- ½ pound lean ground beef, preferably grass fed
- 4 ounces finely chopped mushrooms
- 1 ½ teaspoon dry Italian Seasoning blend
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish if desired
- 1 large egg
- 1 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, preferably part skim (2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna, stirring occasionally until soft and pliable but not yet al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add beef, mushrooms and Italian Seasoning and set over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up beef with a wooden spoon until no-longer pink and the liquid is evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, while adding baby spinach by handfuls, stirring to wilt until the whole amount is completely wilted into the beef mixture, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil.
- Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add ricotta and pepper and stir until completely combined.
- Spread ½ cup tomato mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. (Tip: Remove any large chunks of beef and add them back to the skillet of sauce.) Layer three lasagna noodles vertically into the baking dish; cut one more noodle as necessary and place horizontally to fill in the space at the end of the other three. Top with 1 ½ cups tomato mixture. Dot with half of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with ¾ cup mozzarella. Top with 3 ½ more noodles, 1 ½ cups tomato mixture. Dot with the remaining half of the ricotta mixture and top with ¾ cup mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles. Spread the remaining tomato mixture (about 1 cup) evenly over the top. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake until the lasagna is steaming hot all the way through, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until the mozzarella on top is just melted but not browned, about 10 minutes.
- Let lasagna cool 10 to 15 minutes before sprinkling with additional basil and slicing it into 12 servings.
To Make Ahead: Can be prepared through step 5 up to 1 day in advance. Proceed with step 6 adding an extra 15 minutes of cook time before removing foil.
- Serving Size: 1/12 lasagna
- Calories: 259
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 369 mg
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 24 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 18 g