|Lasagna with Beef, Turkey, & Roasted Vegetables|
I love lasagna. It is a craving food for me. Technically, I am part Italian. Without or without my ancestral heritage, I think I would still have a deep love of Italian food. I remember my Grandma making a big pot of spaghetti sauce filled with meatballs, sausage, chicken, and braciole. It was, and still is, one of my favorite meals. I love making a "pot of sauce" on a Sunday afternoon so it can simmer for hours. Other times, I am looking for the ooey-gooey cheesy deliciousness of a lasagna. The layers of goodness make me happy. In more recent years, as I have been looking for healthier ways to eat food, I will sometimes up the "veggie quotient" of a meal that might otherwise be rather veggie-less. I still get all the things I love about the food, but I added a little extra nutrition which makes me feel a little better about eating it. That begins the tale of adding roasted vegetables to my lasagna.
When I first decided to healthy-up my lasagna, I thought I would try just using vegetables instead of meat, but it was missing something. I tried using turkey instead of ground beef, but there was a lack of richness. Finally, I figured out to just use all three. I use half turkey and half ground beef in the bolognese sauce (fancy name for meat sauce). Then, I take eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash and slice them into long, wide strips (they remind of lasagna noodles sliced this way and could actually be used in place of noodles if you are trying lower the calories/carbs). I roast them in the oven first and then just layer them in with everything else.
This recipe will serve at least 8 (if you serve large pieces) and easily 12 with slightly smaller pieces and a side salad. It also freezes really well. I cut it into portion sizes first and then freeze it. You can take out a serving at a time and heat it in the microwave or oven until melty and bubbly. If you do heat it in the oven, I recommend heating at about 450 degrees, covered with foil, for about 30 minutes.
- 1 large or two small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into wide strips
- 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into wide strips
- 2 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into wide strips
- Lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 28 oz. chopped tomatoes (I like Pomi or Muir Glen)
- 28 oz. strained tomatoes (ditto on above)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh Basil (or about 1 Tbsp dried)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh Oregano (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1/2 cup fresh, flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella (or mozzarella-provolone blend) - more if you like it really cheesy!
- 16 oz. container ricotta cheese - I use Narragansett Creamery's Renaissance Ricotta almost exclusively - if you can find it, use it!!!
- 2 eggs. lightly beaten
Step 1: Roast the Vegetables at 450 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (watch that they don't over cook or dry out). They can still be a little firm since they will bake in the lasagna. Set aside to cool once done.
While the vegetables are roasting, start the bolognese sauce.
Heat your pan to medium-high.
Add about a Tbsp olive oil (optional).
Add beef and turkey and cook until browned. If you didn't use lean meats or there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain all but about 1 Tbsp.
Add onion and garlic to beef and turkey and cook until soft.
Add chopped and strained tomatoes, basil, oregano, and half of the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer the sauce (the longer you can simmer it to reduce it down, the better, but 20-30 minutes is fine - I have notice a little wateriness in the lasagna if you don't reduce the sauce enough)
|The Bolognese sauce|
Once your bolognese is simmering, start working on your ricotta mixture.
Best ricotta I have ever had (seriously). Use this if you can! It is super creamy with none of that gritty texture ricotta can have sometimes.
Combine eggs, ricotta, other half of the parsley, half of the parmigiana-reggiano, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Combine the remaining parmigiana-reggiano with the mozzarella.
Let the layering begin! You can really layer in whatever order suits your taste, but here is how I do it:
In a 13x9 pan:
Spread a thin layer of the bolognese sauce on the bottom so the noodles don't stick.
Lasagna noodles (about 4, slightly overlapping)
Ricotta mixture (about 1/2 of the mixture)
Roasted Vegetables (mix it up or do an all-eggplant layer here and squash on the next one)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese mix
REPEAT with remaining ingredients (you might have leftover sauce - it's great on pasta - freeze or save what you don't use)
|Before - all layered up and ready for the oven|
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let rest 5-10 minutes after it comes out of the oven before serving.
|After - ready for eating!!|
And for those cooks like me who see those cooking shows where the kitchen barely has a thing out of place when they make these kinds of meals. I make a mess. It's okay. It makes it taste better!