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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Turkey Lasagna

It's a Valentine's Day tradition for Aaron and I to have lasagna for dinner. It's the meal I made for our first Valentine's Day together, and our second, and a handful in between as well. It's one of my favorite meals to make for special occasions because the layers are impressive but the process (while time consuming and messy) is very simple.

This year since Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday we spent it with Aaron's parents. I cook for them every Saturday night, but this one was a little special because of the holiday. I put together one of my best lasagnas ever. It didn't even fall apart when I served it! That was pretty exciting since it's never happened before. Usually the bottom piece of pasta sticks to the spatula and I wind up just dropping it on the top instead.

This is a slightly healthier version of a previous post. I used homemade marinara sauce but you can go with a jar of sauce if you have one you really like or if you don't have time to make the sauce. Personally I prefer the homemade sauce because it's not as sweet as commercial jarred sauces and because I can control the seasoning and the amount of spices in it, but it's totally up to you.

The one thing I want to stress is not to use the oven-ready lasagna noodles. I've tried all different brands of them and I haven't found a single one I liked. Otherwise just use what you like. This time I went with fat free cottage cheese and lean ground turkey.

Turkey Lasagna

Source: Adapted from Nana's recipe

12 lasagna noodles (I always cook 13 just in case one breaks)
1 recipe of Basic Marinara Sauce or 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (I just use the stuff in the can)
1 1/2 tsp parsley
salt and pepper
1 (15 oz) container cottage cheese (low fat or fat free works fine)
16 oz (about 4 cups) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook your noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water for as long as the package indicates. Stir them to keep them from sticking together. Drain and rinse in cold water and then set aside. (You can lay them out on wax paper to keep them from sticking or just leave them in the colander.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook until just cooked through but not all of the moisture has evaporated. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Turn the heat off and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, Parmesan, and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Beat lightly with a fork until combined.

Add the cottage cheese and half of the mozzarella (about 2 cups) and stir with a large spoon or silicone spatula until well combined. Be careful not to mash too much of the cottage cheese as you mix.

Once your ingredients are cooked you're ready to assemble. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To assemble the lasagna spray a 9x13 baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Spoon some of the sauce into the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.

Add three lasagna noodles across the bottom of the pan.

Top the lasagna noodles with about 1/3 of the cheese mixture. You could start with the meat or sauce if you prefer but I find it easier to spread the cheese on the bare noodles.

Sprinkle about 1/3 of the turkey over the cheese mixture.

Spoon some sauce over the turkey.

Top with another layer of noodles to begin the process again.

When you have three complete layers place the final three noodles on top. Spread sauce over the noodles, covering completely.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top.

Spray one side of a piece of foil with vegetable oil spray and cover the lasagna with the foil, oil side down.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbly and browned to your liking.

Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot with garlic bread and salad.

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