My husband's favorite dish is lasagna. And therefore, he demands it on father's day and his birthday, every darn year.
Honestly, I love it just as much as he does. But man, this dish can leave you feeling a tad full afterwards. So over the years, I've been trying to tweak this classic dish to make it lighter and healthier, while still leaving you with the feeling that you're eating a hearty lasagna.
Growing up in Germany, I remember going to an Italian restaurant and ordering Lasagna all the time. It was served in a little oval dish, smothered in cheese and Béchamel sauce, oh joy! Ah, the days of no worries.
I like making the Bolognese sauce a day ahead. Not only does it taste better the next day, but it also speeds up the assembly of the lasagna. I substituted ground beef with turkey, regular milk with almond milk for the Béchamel sauce, added veggies and went lighter on the cheese. Oh, and of course, no-boil whole wheat lasagna sheets are a must!
I'm off to Asheville, NC for spring break. My friend Nancy and I are driving down with our daughters. It's going to be a 12-hour car ride, so wish us luck, ha! But I can't wait to go hiking in the beautiful blue ridge mountains and discover Asheville. I hear it's one artistic, cultural and liberal little town packed with restaurants. So, naturally, I'll be eating my way through Asheville. Watch out, I'm on a mission. Biscuits and BBQ here I come!
Healthier Turkey Lasagna
for the meat sauce:
10 slices turkey bacon
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
5 oz mushrooms (cremini)
salt and ground pepper to taste
2 pounds ground turkey (97 percent lean)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
14 ounces of crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup 2 % milk
15-ounce package fresh baby spinach
for the Ricotta-Béchamel sauce :
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
4 cups almond milk, heated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
15 oz part-skim ricotta
1/2-3/4 cup good-quality marinara sauce (my favorite is Rao's)
24 no-boil whole wheat lasagna sheets (Delallo's)
about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, part-skim
about 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
make it :
In a 5-quart heavy pot, cook bacon over medium until crisp, about 10 minutes. In the meantime add onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to a food processor and mince. Add to the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add ground turkey and Italian seasoning; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 9 minutes. Add wine and garlic; cook until wine has almost evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes.
Add broth, milk, crushed tomatoes and spinach; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until sauce is thick and creamy, about 30 minutes more.
While the sauce is cooking, heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth and cook the mixture for about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk to the oil and flour mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, as the sauce thickens. Stir in ricotta during the last 2 minutes of the cooking. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.
Heat the oven to 350° and take out a deep 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Spread 1/2-3/4 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer 6 lasagna noodles vertically into the baking dish (it's okay if it overlaps). Top and spread with Bolognese sauce. Dot with Ricotta-Béchamel sauce and spread. Lightly sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat these steps 2 times. Top with a layer of noodles, the remaining Bolognese sauce, and mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil; bake 20 minutes