Casseroles are not something I am a pro at. In our almost three years of marriage, I have never made a casserole (except a noodle kugel). I’m talking tuna casserole, mac and cheese casserole, green bean, you name it. Seems so mushy and cheesy. We aren’t casserole people.
However, Jeffrey saw a Barefoot Contessa episode that he wanted to try (as usual). It was Ina’s Turkey Lasagna. I think he had been thinking about this lasagna for a few weeks before we made it last Sunday night.
When I think of lasagna, I think of a super cheesy, very heavy dish. After all, it’s layers of pasta, cheese and meat sauce over and over three times. It also seems pretty time consuming. Most of all, when I think casserole, I think cheesy mush.
This dish was far from it. The sauce was so fragrant from the herbs with nice texture from the combo of tomatoes and ground turkey. The cheeses were really cheesy and went together so well. There were four cheeses throughout–Parmesan, ricotta, goat, mozzarella. It was definitely heavy on the cheese.
There were only two layers of noodles, and they were the easiest part to assemble. I also liked that the turkey meat was cooked stovetop, so the oven’s purpose was just to melt everything together, not really cook anything.
It was definitely a big dish. Probably enough for 8 people with salad to finish the dish in one sitting. We froze 2/3 of it.
Meat and Cheese Lasagna
- 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
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound lasagna noodles
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.
- Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
- Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.
Here are some step by step pictures:
Pasta noodles soaking in boiling water.
Goat cheese and ricotta mixed with egg and herbs.
The assembly line–sauce on stove, noodles in clear dish, cheese in red dish.White dish is assembly dish.
Layer of mozzarella cheese.
Just halfway there.
There were greens too! Watermelon, arugula, sunflower seeds. Dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
All together–a slice of lasagna and salad. Between three people (one 8-months pregnant!), we ate one third of the dish! We filled four tupperware containers of servings for later. It’s a big dish!
Jeffrey brought home peonies over the weekend and they bloomed from closed to this in less than one day. They look like tissue paper!
And Allison (8 months pregnant one) brought us roses.
Not too much of a dent in the lasagna, but we all thought it was awesome. Can’t wait for leftovers from the freezer. The pictures weren’t so great, but it was a very, very good dish.
Jeffrey isn’t much of a vegetable lasagna fan, but I would love to try a veggie one with layers of zucchini, squash and eggplant.