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Turkey Lasagna

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

Is there a gastronomic sight more glorious than a bubbling, bronzed lasagna being pulled out of an oven? I think not. Last night, I felt such an overwhelming sense of excitement and accomplishment when this beauty emerged from the “forno.” Wait- am I talking about childbirth or cooking? Ha! All lasagna makes me VERY happy, but there is just something special about this one. Maybe it’s the hearty turkey tomato sauce, or the perfectly al dente noodles, or the layer of creamy ricotta and tangy goat cheese... it’s just perfection! This isn’t one of those skyscraper tall lasagnas with 10 layers of noodles and barely anything else in between- there are only two pasta layers here (so I guess this is a low carb version of lasagna??). But stacked among those sheets of pasta are generous ladles of chunky, delicious sauce, hefty dollops of herb flecked ricotta and goat cheese, and a melty strata of gooey mozzarella and nutty parmigiano. Many of the lasagnas served on American menus are dense, greasy blocks of cheese and meat. When you have truly authentic Italian lasagna, however, it’s much lighter and fresher and doesn’t leave you feeling like Augustus Gloop! This recipe (adapted from the Barefoot Contessa) is satisfying and filling without being heavy! Although the sauce is hearty, using a combo of ground turkey and turkey sausage in place of beef or veal makes it much lighter! The goat cheese and herbs in the ricotta filling lend this lasagna a luxurious freshness. It’s totally suitable for both weeknights and dinner parties! Also, this is a great dish to assemble ahead of time and either pop in the fridge overnight or freeze. I like to make two small ones at a time- one to eat and one for the freezer. All it needs on the side is a green salad and some vino tinto!


prep time: ~40 min. cook time: 45 min. Serves: 8


1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 lb Italian turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed (I use 1/2 hot and 1/2 sweet)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp garlic powder

kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2- 24 oz jars good marinara sauce (such as Rao's)

3/4 lb lasagna noodles (3/4 of a standard box- you may have some leftover but i like to cook extra in case any of them stick together and tear)

1- 15 oz tub ricotta cheese

4 oz plain goat cheese, at room temperature

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 cup parmigiano reggiano, divided

1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella



Preheat the oven to 375° and lightly grease a 9”x13” baking dish. Make the sauce: heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey, sausage, fennel, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Break the meat up with a wooden spoon and mix the spices in. When the meat is no longer pink, add in the marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to gently simmer for 10 minutes to meld flavors. Remove from heat and set aside. Par-cook the noodles: place the lasagna noodles in another large heat proof baking dish or bowl. Pour very hot water over the noodles to cover (I heat the water in a kettle and take it off the heat just before boiling), and let them stand 10-15 minutes. Flip the noodles around occasionally so that they don’t stick to each other. Drain the noodles on paper towels and blot the tops with towels to dry. Make the ricotta mixture: combine the ricotta, goat cheese, egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 cup grated parmigiano, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Assemble the lasagna: ladle 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the greased baking dish to cover it completely in an even layer, spreading it corner to corner. Next layer in half of noodles, trimming them with scissors to fit if needed, and just slightly overlapping the edges. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles and use your fingers to spread it out. Add 3/4 cup of the grated mozzarella evenly on top of the ricotta and sprinkle more parmigiano over the mozzarella. Repeat the layers: another 1/3 of the sauce (spreading it over the cheese evenly, the remaining noodles, the rest of the ricotta mixture, the remaining mozzarella, more parm and the rest of the sauce spread on the very top). Sprinkle the remaining parm on the top of the lasagna and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven covered for 30 minutes. Uncover the dish and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until brown, bubbly and heated through the center. Let stand 10 minutes and then cut into squares and serve with some basil and grated parmigiano on top!

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