Lasagna was on the menu this week, and I was a little apprehensive about how it would turn out because I don’t have an Italian bone in my body.
I had never made lasagna before, and my family has never been the type to make lasagna for dinner or, for that matter, open a box of the frozen stuff and eat that for a meal. So I did some asking around.
In the end, two people gave me really useful advice. Jeff, an adviser of mine, told me not to add any extra liquid because the tomatoes would produce enough and to use the no-boil noodles.
The other bit came from a colleague in my fibers studio. She said one of her friends uses cream cheese in the cheese mixture of her lasagna.
Armed with those hints and a basic knowledge of what goes into lasagna, I headed to the grocery store.
I picked up the ricotta, cream cheese and shredded mozzarella from the dairy section (ricotta is near the cottage cheese at my store). I used whole milk ricotta, but it is the cook’s choice if you want to use a lower fat ricotta. Fresh herbs and the onion were easy to find in the produce section, but the wall of pasta took me a moment to acclimate to.
It was slightly daunting at first sight to have to sift through all of that pasta looking for lasagna noodles, but once I found them they were clearly labeled if they were no-boil, which was helpful.
After the pasta, I swung around to pick up ground turkey and decided on Italian-seasoned ground turkey and then straight into the deli section for my Parmesan cheese.
Once I got home I compiled all of my ingredients and tossed the lasagna into the oven.
Within an hour of leaving the grocery store I had a full meal on my hands. The lasagna was bubbling away in my oven, I had a pre-made caesar salad and a loaf of garlic bread that I had picked up from the freezer section.
The meal was met with only complaints that I don’t make it more often. Personally, I thought the Italian-seasoned ground turkey was too much, but beyond that I thought it was a pretty good dish. So much for apprehensive, huh?
L’Chaim and B’Tay Avon (to life and eat well).
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella
For the sauce
1 pound ground turkey (beef, buffalo or pork are all substitutable)
1 medium sized onion, diced
14-16 oz can chopped tomatoes undrained
2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 large basil leaves, chopped
For the cheese mixture
1 (8oz) box of cream cheese (the cheap stuff isn’t an option here, it doesn’t bake so well)
12 oz ricotta
parsley, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Brown the turkey and onion together over medium to medium-high heat.
While the meat is browning combine all ingredients for the cheese mixture. Be sure to drain off any excess fluid in the ricotta cheese.
Once the turkey is browned add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 350/ and begin layering a 9×13 pan starting with the sauce, lasagna noodles, cheese mixture and then mozzarella. I could fit two layers total in my pan but always finish with mozzarella on top.
Bake covered for 30 minutes and then uncover to brown the cheese for 10-15 minutes.