Lasagna Two Ways – Turkey Sausage or Spinach Filling (or Use Both)

photo 2 (15) photo 1 (19)My friend Susan and I made this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa many moons ago, it has since been my go-to lasagna. I love the goat cheese in it and I love the turkey. In the years since, I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe, including substituting spinach for turkey, which makes it a perfectly delightful vegetarian (not vegan) lasagna, and you all know by now that I am always looking for vegetarian ways of doing things for my daughter. I do use frozen spinach and the only thing I will say is that you really, really need to get all the water out of that frozen spinach, so let it drain well and then actually wring it out with your hands–really wring it out till there is no more water, it may take a while to do this and you can actually do all the other steps while you are doing that. Lasagna is always a lot of work, but well worth it. It can be made a few days ahead; I like to cook it almost all the way and then wrap it and leave it in the fridge until I ‘m ready for to eat it. It can also be frozen in portion size pieces which is really the best, and it will stay frozen for a while. I’ve actually frozen it in one season, come back to Colorado the next season and defrosted it and reheated it, and it tasted awesome! So here you go, my go-to lasagna. If you’d like to use both spinach and turkey go right ahead!!! I always say that I have never met a lasagna I didn’t like but this is one you’ll love. The secret ingredient is the goat cheese for sure.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 lbs. sweet (or if available, I do 1/2 sweet and 1/2 spicy) Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing (you can actually buy it this way) if you’d like you can use all pork sausage as well

If you are substituting spinach for turkey you’ll need about 4 boxes of frozen spinach, well-drained (read above) or use both the turkey  and spinach and then about 2 boxes of spinach

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

lasagna noodles (I use pre-cooked noodles…I love them)or use the regular boxed ones whichever you prefer (both are shown on photos) I really am loving those pre cooked ones though

15 ounces ricotta cheese (skim is fine but don’t use fat-free)

6 ounces creamy goat cheese (crumbled) this is what makes it so unique

1 cup grated parmesan, plus you may need a bit more for sprinkling on top

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 pound shredded mozzarella (However you can get this is fine; fresh is always delicious but the packaged ones aren’t bad for this purpose. I use skim here but never use fat-free cheese please.), but nice touch)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so (don’t burn it.) Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, about 10 minutes or until it is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and if you’d like add some of the fresh basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until sauce thickens. Taste for additional salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, the egg, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside. Now if you were adding the spinach this would be the time, in with the cheeses.

In a nice lasagna baking dish or Pyrex–whatever pan comes closest to 9 x 12. Ladle some of the sauce over bottom of the pan, then add layers of noodles over. With the pre-cooked I usually use 3 or 4 depending on the size of the dish but you do not have to overlap as they cook up nicely. (I never use the other noodles anymore.) Next, layer mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one-third of the sauce. Add more pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan on top. Bake for 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. I usually cook my lasagna covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15. If I am cooking it ahead of time, I only cook for 45 minutes covered and then I will brown it up when I reheat it. Also if you are reheating it, please take it out and let it sit at room temperature before putting it in the oven.

Obviously if you are using the spinach, that will be in your cheese layer, and your sauce will be without turkey. I mean…turkey and spinach would be pretty awesome, as well.

Good Luck! Have fun with this. Everyone loves lasagna.

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