For hungry athletes, little is more welcomed than a nice lasagna dinner! If you are looking for a hearty, nutrient dense recipe that lasts for several meals, enjoy this Gourmet Vegetarian Lasagna from my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It’s perfect for fueling up the night before—or refueling after—some hard exercise. Here’s what Simmons University nutrition student Ali Mattia had to say about her lasagna-making experience.
This recipe combines the heartiness of the traditional Italian meal with some ‘oomf’ from spinach, pine nuts, and sundried tomatoes. These ingredients give you a unique flavor while adding beneficial nutrient dense foods:
Spinach: Rich in vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
Pine Nuts: Good source of monounsaturated fats (the healthy fats), vitamins E and K.
Tomatoes: Flavorful sun dried tomatoes, as well as tomato sauce, are rich in vitamin A
Whole Grain Pasta: Carbohydrates fuel your muscles for exercise. Adding whole grain pasta into your day will help you feel satiated. And, as a person with close ties to her Italian heritage, the current fad of substituting zucchini or other vegetables in place of pasta noodles just makes me shake my head. Doing so significantly decreases your intake of healthy, muscle fueling energy.
This recipe made plenty for myself and my roommates to enjoy for several nights. You could even split the recipe between smaller pans to freeze and save for later!
1 box (16 oz) Lasagna Noodles, whole grain or regular
½ cup pine nuts (pignoli nuts)
8-9 sun-dried tomatoes
1-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (I used 3 – because I LOVE garlic)
1 teaspoon oil, preferably olive
1 pound ricotta cheese, part skim or nonfat
4-8 ounces shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1-2 dashes nutmeg
¼ teaspoon oregano
1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained (draining is key, to prevent excess water)
1 28-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
Optional: ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Toast the pine nuts on the stove top in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Place the sun dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak oil-packed tomatoes for 5 minutes or dried tomatoes for 10-15 minutes. Drain, cook, and finely chop.
- Saute the garlic in oil for 2 minutes. Do not brown.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, nutmeg, oregano, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and garlic.
- Pour enough tomato sauce into a 9×13 inch pan to coat the bottom. Cover with a layer of four lasagna noodles, cutting or folding to fit. Then add one-third of the ricotta mixture and then one-third of the remaining spaghetti sauce. Repeat twice, making three layers of ricotta. On the last layer, end with noodles and tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired.
- Cover with foil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until hot, at 350oF.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutrition Information: 3,600 total calories. 450 calories per serving. 53g carbohydrate, 21g protein, 17g fat.
For more yummy recipes for sports foods, check out Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook