2 large eggplants, peeled
Vegetable or olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground turkey, lean beef, sausage or protein crumbles
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
16-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped into 1/2- inch pieces
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
24- to 28-ounce jar tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste; optional)
2 cups low-fat ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs or equivalent substitute
10-ounce bag fresh spinach, chopped fine or 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut into strips about the size of lasagna noodles. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a broiler pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil, or coat with cooking spray.
Place the eggplant strips on pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder and Parmesan. Bake 5 minutes; turn slices and bake 5 more minutes. The eggplant should be nicely golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees.
Place ground meat in a skillet, break up with spatula, add 1/2 cup water and cook over medium heat, continuing to break up any large pieces, until no longer pink. Drain. (No cooking needed for meatless crumbles.) Transfer to sauce pot.
In the same skillet, sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes longer, until mushrooms are golden and liquid has cooked off. Add to sauce pot along with tomatoes, sauce and spices. Simmer at least 15 minutes.
In the meantime, pulse ricotta with eggs in a food processor until blended. Add spinach and pulse until distributed.
Spread about a third of the tomato sauce in bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place half the eggplant sizes in a layer over the sauce, then half the ricotta mixture. Repeat with sauce, eggplant and ricotta. Add a final layer of sauce and sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan on top.
Cover pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 246 calories (32 percent from fat), 9.2 g fat (5.3 g saturated, 1.9 g monounsaturated), 84 mg cholesterol, 27 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 5.6 g fiber, 753 mg sodium.