Saturday, December 5, 2009

Week 14: Lasagna with Turkey Sausage

My very first lasagna was made from the recipe on the noodle box. I remember the day when I grabbed a box from the grocery store shelf and actually gasped when I found that the recipe wasn't on the box!

A few years ago, a friend made a lasagna with a homemade sauce (made from tomato soup) and cottage cheese and ricotta. It was delish and is the recipe I've made religiously since then. I'll share it sometime.

But, I love to cook and especially love to cook pasta dishes. It seems pretty lame that I don't have my own lasagna recipe. And, that's how I came to this particular choice.

"Lasagna with Turkey Sausage"
in Barefoot Contessa Family Style
by Ina Garten

Serves 8

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 C chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 6-oz can tomato paste
4 tsp dried flat-leaf parsley, divided
4 tsp dried basil leaves
Black pepper
1/2 lb lasagna noodles
15 oz ricotta cheese
3 to 4 oz creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 C grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 C for sprinkling
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 lb fresh mozzarella, shredded

Preheat the over to 400 F.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one 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, 2 Tbsp of parsley, the basil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes or 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. Note. I used whole wheat noodles and actually soaked them for more like 40 minutes, replacing the water with fresh hot water about half-way through. It worked great!

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 C Parmesan, egg, 2 tsp parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 x 12 x 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 C of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling.

To make ahead, refrigerate the assembled, unbaked lasagna, Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly.

My review.

I was a little nervous about not cooking the noodles, but that part turned out really well.

I was also a little nervous about the amount of noodles. I'm used to lots of layers of noodles, and this recipe only has two layers. That worked out okay, too.

I didn't listen to Ina and used spicy sausage instead of sweet. The sausage part was okay but not great. Maybe I need to try it with a different brand of sausage. I used Jennie-O turkey sausage (all my grocery store had). I also think I could leave the sausage out.

I was surprised by how solid the lasagna was. When I scooped it out it actually stayed as a real piece (instead of falling apart in a soupy mess like my "normal" recipe). The cheese formed a really nice layer; I think that was due to the egg and the goat cheese. The sauce mixture wasn't the perfect consistency.

I don't think this will replace the lasagna recipe I normally make, but I think we will switch it up with this recipe every now and then. I'll use a different kind of sausage, though.

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