Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turkey Lasagna Al Forno

Those of you who are chronic recipe surfers are probably inundated with gingerbread, egg nog and turkey recipes at this time of year. Despite all the food at holiday parties, in office corridors and under the tree, there is no substitute for hearty sustenance during the festive season. This lasagna is an ideal feed-a-crowd recipe, especially if you have houseguests at this busy time of year. Given the turkey sausage in this lasagna, it could even be a substitute for a traditional Christmas roast turkey or ham.

I created this recipe for a book club that my boyfriend hosted earlier this week. You can prepare it several days in advance, store in the refrigerator and bake before serving. Alternately, you can freeze it up to one month and thaw overnight before baking.

You may be surprised to know that the word lasagna traces its origins to lasanon, the Greek word for chamber pot. The term was adopted by Romans as lasanum, to refer to the cooking pot in which lasagna was originally made. The Italians have vigorously denied recent claims that lasagna originated in England, in the court of King Richard II. Regardless of its genesis, it has become a staple in North America, Europe, Australia and Ethiopia.

Serves 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup finely chopped carrots (optional)
1 1/4 pounds spicy turkey or chicken sausages, casings removed
26 ounces (1 jar) spicy tomato-based pasta sauce (Arrabiata sauce is ideal)

30 ounces partially skimmed ricotta cheese
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Other Ingredients
1 to 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
9 uncooked lasagna noodles (regular or no cook)
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated

1. Boil lasagna noodles according to instructions on package. Drain hot water and fill with cold water. Leave the noodles in cold water until ready to use. You do not need to boil the noodles for this recipe, as uncooked noodles will bake through. However, it doesn’t take too much time, and might be preferable if you plan on freezing the lasagna.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant, and then sauté onions and chili powder for 2 minutes.
3. Add sausages and sauté for 10 minutes until brown, using a fork to break meat into chunks. Add tomato sauce and carrots and simmer 5 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375 F.
5. Mix ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, eggs, basil, oregano and pepper. Set aside.
6. Spread 1 cup meat sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 glass or metal baking dish. Place 3 noodles over sauce in a single layer. Top with another cup of meat sauce, followed by 1 cup of ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella.
7. Repeat with 3 noodles, 1 cup meat sauce, 2 cups ricotta mixture, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella. [see second photo above]
8. Place last 3 noodles over cheese. Spread 1 cup meat sauce, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the remaining mozzarella.
9. Dollop remaining ricotta mixture on top of lasagna, and remaining meat sauce around ricotta. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan (if any). Cover tightly with foil.
10. Bake lasagna covered for 40-50 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until noodles are tender and lasagna is hot and bubbly. This will take between 20-30 minutes.
11. To bake a frozen lasagna either thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as above, or bake frozen lasagna for 90-100 minutes.
12. Allow lasagna to stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Anonymous said...

Another fact that you did not mention is that Lasagna is a traditional Italian dish that is mainly cooked and served for big holiday celebrations--my family would often have it (as one of the many dishes) on Thanksgiving as well. So it really is a perfect dish for the holidays!

This recipe reminds me of the first Lasagna I ever made in my first apartment with my roommate...remember, AKR??? We were eating that thing for weeks!! -RT

Jackie said...

Aly, I have been meaning to tell you that I made a double batch for James and I not long after my visit with you in Bragg Creek! We LOVED it - and it lasted longer than I anticipated as it was such a hearty dish. I froze one as you suggested - worked out perfectly. I look forward to trying more of your main dishes!