Lasagna is already delicious, but maybe you’re looking to sneak in more protein and reduce some carbs, maybe digestive sensitivities stop you from pasta loving the way you want, or maybe the grocery store ran out again. Regardless, you’re here hankering for lasagna, so instead of forgoing the dish entirely, make this lasagna-esque, protein-forward, layered casserole with egg white “pasta” sheets that’s so delicious it might make you not-so-accidentally forget to buy regular lasagna sheets next time.
I love lasagna as much as the next orange, cartoon cat, but this dish really made me question my resistance to alternative noodles. The egg whites created unquestionable layers, the meat sauce and ricotta mixture were center stage, and it sliced beautifully. Leftovers the next day were just as scrumptious, I even ate the first bites cold because it smelled so great that I couldn’t wait the 90 seconds for the microwave to do its job.
The beauty of using egg whites in place of pasta sheets is that it’s relatively flavor-neutral, a thin layer cooks up quickly, and the cooked egg whites are strong enough to create and hold discernible layers in your casserole. (Eggs also make for great protein wraps.) I included a little greenery by adding a hefty dose of chopped spinach to the mix. To make this dish simpler, buy a carton of egg white instead of cracking and separating whole eggs. Most grocery stores sell these right alongside their whole eggs. Give it a good shake and proceed. If you are using egg whites that you’ve separated, give them a vigorous whisk before making the sheets. They’ll spread more thinly and evenly that way.
Just as you would when making any other type of lasagna, prepare all of the components first. That’ll involve getting your meat sauce together, your ricotta mixture seasoned, and the cheeses grated. Make the egg white sheets by lightly oiling a wide bottomed pan. You can also use a wok, like I did. Just tilt the pan to create a wider circle. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to swipe in the oil between cooking egg sheets. Heat the pan on medium heat. Pour about ⅓ cup of egg whites into the pan. As it cooks, tilt the pan to ensure even coverage and to get the size you need, about eight inches in diameter for an 8- x 11-inch casserole dish. The egg white sheet will cook through in about two minutes. There’s no need to cook the other side. Peel the egg white carefully off of the pan and place on a lightly oiled plate. Place a small piece of parchment over it so the next one you stack on top is less likely to stick. Do this four more times, stacking the finished circles the same side up, with a piece of parchment in between them.
I used an 8- x 11-inch Pyrex dish and started with a super thin swipe of my sauce mixture on the bottom. Lay down one and a half egg sheets, breaking off any excess and puzzling it together to cover the bottom. Spread out half of the meat sauce, and cover with another layer of egg white. Spread the spinach and cheese mixture, and cover with the last egg white sheet and pieces. Use the rest of the meat sauce to cover the top and sprinkle on the shredded cheeses. If any egg layers are showing, tuck them down into the side of the dish to make sure the meat sauce is covering it. This ensures the egg whites don’t overcook and become rubbery. The ingredients have already been cooked, so the bake time is short. It’s really just to settle the layers and melt the cheeses. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until you see the edges are bubbling rapidly. Flick the oven to broil for another five minutes or so, just to toast the top layer.
Let this protein-packed ‘zagna (say it through your nose) cool for 5 or ten minutes before slicing. This casserole dishes out about six servings, and keeps, covered, in the fridge for up to five days.
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 5 ounces ground turkey
- 5 ounces ground beef
- 2-3 cups of bolognese sauce (I used Rao’s bolognese)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt for seasoning
- 12-ounce bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 15 ounces liquid egg white
- 2 ounces Raclette, shredded (or another melty cheese)
- 1 ounce Parmesan, grated
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a dish with oil. Have a small to medium casserole dish at the ready.
Add a little oil to a medium frying pan and sweat the garlic and onion over medium heat, until they become translucent but not brown. Add the ground beef and ground turkey. Break up the meats as they cook. Lightly salt the mixture in the pan. Once the meats are cooked through and most of the water has evaporated, stir in the bolognese sauce. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the ricotta with the garlic powder, chopped spinach, and salt according to your taste. Set aside.
In a wide-bottomed skillet, or a wok, lightly brush oil on the bottom and sides. Fry five, thin circles of egg white in the pan over medium heat, brushing the pan with oil in between each fry. Each egg white layer is a ⅓ cup, so use a measuring cup to help make portioning easier. Stack the egg circles on the oil coated dish, with a small piece of parchment in between each layer. You’re ready to assemble!
Scoop a couple tablespoons of the meat sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish and spread it around to coat the bottom with some moisture. This is just a buffer to keep the bottom layer from burning. Add one full egg white sheet and a half to the bottom, reserve the other half to fill in any missing spaces as you go along. Cover with half of the sauce mixture. Lay down another layer of egg white, and top that with the entire spinach mixture. Lay the last layer of egg white on top, using excess to patch any missing areas, and cover with the other half of the meat sauce. Cover the surface with the shredded Raclette and Parmesan cheeses.
Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until you see the edges are bubbling rapidly. Broil for another five minutes to toast the surface. Cool for 10 minutes, and enjoy. This recipe makes six servings.