Spinach and Turkey Lasagna

A very dear friend and I have been talking about getting together for a few weeks now before she has her second baby.  {She’s due any day now!}  We finally made plans for Superbowl Sunday, but after I heard that just a few days before that she was in the hospital and having contractions, I started thinking I may not see her that weekend after all.  As God would have it, it was a false alarm!  She and her hubby headed back home later that same afternoon.  When we spoke over the weekend, she said she still wanted me to come over and keep her company on Sunday for a bit.

I decided if she’s that darn close to delivering, well, maybe I should bring some food with me, so she can relax and not have to worry about food.  {Plus it gives me another excuse to make cupcakes!}

Lasagna seemed like a great choice.  A huge tray makes tons of leftovers.  Plus, she’s Italian.

Only one problem…

I’ve never EVER made lasagna before. 

I didn’t realize that her parents were still in town from having dropped everything and coming just a few days before during the false alarm labor.  When I saw them as I walked in, I secretly panicked.  Famous for her homemade gravy (Italian for tomato sauce) and all things wonderfully yummy and Italian, I wondered how my tray of spinach and turkey would measure up for her.

Luckily, it was spectacular.  Everyone thought so – even her mom!

Here’s the recipe:

Spinach and Turkey Lasagna

*supposedly this is the official recipe from the White House Executive Chef, Sam Kaas.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound fresh ground turkey
  • 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 16 cooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 15 ounces low-fat ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, washed, but not dried
  • 1 pound low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add ground turkey and cook for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add damp spinach, stir until wilted. Add plum tomatoes, tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper; let simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in basil and parsley; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and egg; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Ladle one-quarter of the turkey mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; spread to cover. Add 1/4 of lasagna noodles, one-third of the mozzarella, one-third of the ricotta mixture. Repeat process two more times; top with remaining lasagna noodles. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top; transfer to oven. Bake until bubbly, about 35-40 minutes.

Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting, and then serve.

What I learned from making this recipe:

  • I boiled my lasagna noodles before realizing that I had bought “no-boil” noodles.  It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  It was difficult to separate the noodles once they were cooked and drained, but rinsing in cold water helped with this.
  • I completely forgot to add the fresh herbs into the tomato sauce mixture but it still tasted fantastic.  I won’t forget it next time – who doesn’t love fresh basil?
  • The tomato/meat sauce seemed a touch on the stingy side, so be prepared for this if you are serving a crowd that may want extra sauce on the side.  {That’s how my own mom usually serves it.}
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