Bread and pasta pair as inevitably as a loaf does with wine and thou. But especially in diet circles, the idea of consuming two starches at the same meal seems a terrible indulgence. This is obviously shortsighted; any calorie chart shows that bread yields 60 to 80 calories a slice, so it's not dietetically disastrous to indulge.

The place to subtly cut caloric corners in a summertime Italian meal is in the pasta. You can delete it altogether and still have lasagna; summer gardens dripping with slimming ripe tomatoes give us endless options for lightweight main dishes. Since the following "lasagna" recipe is really a hot, layered salad, serve cool melon balls along with it. Make sure your bread calories are worth it: Get good-quality, chewy loaves and splurge on very fresh, sweet butter, if you care to spend your calories that way.

Though we think many cooks probably needn't go further than their back yard for tomatoes, we've allowed for their presence in the express lane for apartment dwellers and brown thumbs. But every kitchen should have flour, sugar, salt, pepper and butter and/or oil.

Express lane list: spinach, cottage cheese, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, Italian bread, cantaloupe. LIGHTWEIGHT LASAGNA (4 servings) 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, thickly sliced 2 10-ounce packages frozen, chopped spinach 1 cup lowfat cottage cheese Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Slice tomatoes and set on paper towels. Cook spinach and drain well. Mix with cottage cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place 1/3 of the mixture in a lightly greased loaf pan and cover with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Repeat layers to use remaining ingredients. Mix the last of the parmesan with bread crumbs and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with chewy bread and chilled melon balls or chunks. Each serving of lasagna contains about 274 calories. A cup of cantaloupe chunks is 48 calories. A piece of Italian-style bread contains about 75 calories. Butter contains about 100 calories per tablespoon