Whole-wheat noodles, low-fat cheeses and light pasta sauce make this beef and pasta casserole healthy but still deliciously satisfying.
To prepare meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking pan with foil.
In a large bowl, combine roasted red peppers, breadcrumbs, egg, tomato sauce, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Add ground beef; mix well. Shape meat mixture into 24 meatballs. Place the meatballs in the prepared pan. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a meatball registers 160 degrees F, about 20 minutes.
To prepare lasagna: Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place pepper quarters, cut-sides down, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until pepper quarters are charred. Wrap in the foil; let stand for 20 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, peel skins from pepper quarters. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles; rinse with cold water. Drain well; set aside. For filling, in a small bowl, stir together 1 cup mozzarella cheese, ricotta and goat cheese (or Parmesan); set aside.
To assemble, spread 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Layer two of the cooked noodles in the dish. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on top of the noodles. Add two more of the cooked noodles. Top with the ricotta mixture, spreading evenly. Arrange the pepper pieces over the ricotta mixture. Top with the remaining cooked noodles. Spread the remaining pasta sauce over the noodles.
Bake, covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs.
To make ahead: Prepare meatballs (Steps 1 & 2). Cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
1/2 vegetable, 1 1/2 starch, 2 1/2 lean meat, 1/2 fat
We didn't add the roasted red pepper but everything else was the same. This is delicious and we've made it twice now. Definitely recommend this recipe.