Recipe Makeover: Mario Batali’s Lasagne Bolognese

Indulge in this classic dish with these nutrition-boosting ingredients

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Lasagne Mario Batali's Bolognese Healthier Recipe Makeover
Add in these delicious additions for even more indulgent slice. (Photo by: stijn)

Updated Jul 11, 2017 @ 11:33 am

By Lisa Roberts-Lehan

Who can possibly resist an indulgent and gooey piece of Lasagne Bolognese, especially when the recipe hails from celebrity chef Mario Batali’s acclaimed Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village (which just so happens to be Clean Plates Approved)? Pair it with a nice, rich red wine—such as a Chianti or Sangiovese—and you’ve got dinner made in heaven.

Raise your antioxidant levels, protect against disease (while keeping your waistline slim), and help the environment by using organic extra virgin olive oil instead of conventional varieties treated with harmful pesticides.

Swap ground veal with equal parts organic ground pork and beef or bison from grass-fed animals free of antibiotics and hormones. Pasture-raised meat also boasts lower fat, less calories and health-promoting essential omega-3s. Don’t do pork or red meat? No problem. Organic, grass-fed ground turkey is a nutrient-rich, lean option for this recipe.

Replace conventional pancetta with nitrate-free pancetta made from free-range pigs free of antibiotics and hormones. If you can’t find nitrate-free pancetta in your area, search the Eat Wild and Local Harvest websites to find local markets and producers.  You can also order nitrate-free pancetta from pasture-raised pigs from La Quercia in Iowa.

Substitute tomato paste with reduced organic tomato purée made from fresh organic tomatoes to boost antioxidants and lower sodium. To make: boil tomato purée until reduced by half.  If you’re short on time, store-bought organic tomato paste is fine.

Replace regular milk with organic milk from grass-fed cows not injected with antibiotics or hormones. To find organic milk from pasture-raised cows in your area, check out the Real Milk website.

Swap out conventional butter for butter made from the raw milk of grass-fed cows.  Our second choice would be organic butter from the pasteurized milk of antibiotic- and hormone-free cows.

Increase nutrients by using spelt flour or quinoa flour in lieu of all-purpose flour.  Spelt is an ancient grain related to wheat with a nut-like flavor. Unlike other grains, even conventionally grown spelt is not commonly sprayed with pesticides or other synthetic chemicals. As an added bonus, those with wheat allergies often tolerate immune-strengthening spelt. Quinoa, on the other hand, is a protein- and nutrient-rich superfood revered by the Inca (and is gluten-free).  You can’t go wrong here!

Boost flavor and nutritive value with whole grain Vita Spelt lasagna noodles. Fun fact: The ancient Etruscans reportedly used to prepare a lasagne-like dish with spelt! If you’re gluten-free, use brown rice lasagna noodles from Tinkyada. Both brands are found in most health food stores and a growing number of markets around the country.

Layer with organic zucchini thinly sliced on a mandolin, organic red bell peppers or Swiss chard to increase nutrients and add fiber. Vegetables help you fill up quicker and give your body the nutrients it needs to off-set the negative affects of richer foods.

Garnish with locally-made, organic hard cheese made in the style of Parmesan-Reggiano.  Find producers in your area at the local farmer’s market, an area cheese shop or on Local Harvest’s website. If a local cheese isn’t available, look for organic Parmesan-Reggiano from the Emilia-Romagna province in Italy.

Enjoy! Let us know if you have a favorite dish you’d like us to give the Clean Plates makeover treatment.

Lisa Roberts-Lehan is a freelance writer, holistic chef, and nutritional counselor based in New York City. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she loves nothing more than being in the kitchen and developing new recipes.  Her work has been featured in Brad Lamm’s JUST 10 LBS, Erika Lenkert and Brook Alpert’s Healthy Nutritious Pregnancy, as well as AOL/Fox, Plum TV, SOBeFiT magazine and McFadden Performing Arts publications. 

Image courtesy of Flickr stijn.