Friday, August 29, 2014

Amazing Turkey Lasagna

I just made the yummiest lasagna!  So I had to share it with you right away so you can make it too! Everyone seems to have their favorite lasagna recipe, but I promise you, this one is truly special.  It is from Ina Garten, and I rarely ever go wrong with her recipes!  First of all, she uses turkey Italian sausage, so you can feel very proud of your healthy dinner and just forget about all of that cheese, okay?  I mean, surely the use of turkey instead of pork sausage outweighs some of that yummy cheese??  Honestly, I think what makes this lasagna so delicious is the addition of some creamy goat cheese in the middle.  Mmmm.  And there is a whole new brilliant way of "cooking" the noodles that is so easy!  Ready to hear more?  Read on!

The sauce for this lasagna incorporates the turkey sausage, instead of using sauce and then layering the sausage on the cheese or something.  Smart, I think.  I think next time I might even use more sausage, just to boost the meaty/protein element of this lasagna.

Are you ready for how to cook the noodles?  It is brilliant and it WORKS, I tell you.  Instead of dumping the noodles into boiling water and trying to get them out at that perfect al-dente texture and then dumping them into a colander to cool without breaking them all to pieces, this recipe has a smart new way.  Find a large bowl.  I used the biggest mixing bowl I have and next time I might just use my big broiling pan so the noodles can lay flat.  You fill that bowl with the hottest TAP water you can.  Then add the noodles to the bowl and let them sit in the water for 20 minutes.  Done.  My noodles had troubles being totally submerged in my large mixing bowl (it just wasn't quite wide enough).  If this happens to you, no worries.  Place something heavy on the top of the noodles to hold them down.  I used a glass jar filled with my pie weights.  After about 10 minutes, I removed the jar and gently flipped the noodles around, so the ones that were on top were now on the bottom of the bowl, and then put the jar back on top.  After 20 minutes, the noodles were still fairly stiff but softened the right amount.  I will NEVER cook lasagna noodles in boiling water again!  Or use the "no bake" ones!  This is easy!

I prepared the lasagna in the morning and just threw it in the oven for dinner!  Easy.  And I have to say that this recipe is pretty forgiving, as at SOME UNKNOWN POINT during the baking of the lasagna, the clever boy stood up at the stove and TURNED OFF the heat.  He is totally fascinated by the oven/stove right now and those knobs are right in his reach when he stands up.  I need to figure out how to prevent this from happening again!  Anyway, when my timer went off, I realized that the lasagna was not only not bubbling, but that the oven didn't seem very hot.  Ugh.  So I turned the oven back on and let it cook for a bit more.  I had no idea how long it needed to go, but it worked!  Phew!  Dinner was delayed a bit but it was still delicious! 

Are you ready for the entire recipe?  Here you go!

Turkey Lasagna
adapted from Ina Garten

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled apart
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 XL egg, lightly beaten
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 400F.  Get out a 9x12x2-inch rectangular baking dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding the sausage.  Break up the sausage into small chunks, and cook until the sausage is not pink, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 TB parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.  Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.  The sauce will thicken.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl or pan with the hottest tap water.  Submerge the noodles and let them soak for 20 minutes.  Drain.

Combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup Parmesan, egg, remaining 2 TB parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish, spreading it all over the bottom of the dish and into the corners.  Start to layer the lasagna:  1/2 of the noodles, 1/2 of the mozzerella slices, 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, and 1/3 of the sauce.  Repeat the layering, ending with the sauce.  Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.
Printable Recipe

I am honestly not sure I'll make another lasagna again.  You can definitely adapt this recipe however you want.  You could remove the sausage and use some portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian option.  And add lots of different veggies in the layering if you wanted.  I would probably cook the veggies a little first, as this lasagna only cooks for 30 minutes so you might want to give the veggies a head start.  I would not change the cheese though.  Fresh mozzerella and goat cheese with ricotta and Parmesan?  That is some yummy, creamy, cheesy goodness right there!  This recipe was a huge hit!  Even as leftovers!  My family will definitely be seeing this again!

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