i like lasagna a lot, but it’s not one of my favorite dishes because i always feel like i’ve eaten a greasy, heavy food baby after i’m done with my meal. i combined a cooking light recipe, some tips from the back of a barilla box, my own brilliant ideas and my own writing-down-recipes-wrong creations to come up with this totally lightened up but terrific-tasting turkey lasagna.
lasagna is pretty difficult to make in a personal-sized portion, so i had some friends over for dinner and we enjoyed salad, lasagna, garlic bread, dessert and wine and i was left with only 2-3 portions of leftovers instead of the promise that i’d have to eat lasagna daily for the next week and a half. perfecto!
the ingredients might stray a bit from your traditional lasagnas, but a) i’m not italian and b) i’m trying to be an artiste here, so both of those factors give me some leeway when it comes to this dish. also, you’ll thank me that you don’t even have to boil the noodles - where’s the easy button when you need it?
so without judging what goes into it, take a lesson from your favorite orange cat and know that garfield would never turn his nose up at ANY lasagna.
1 pound lean ground turkey (1 package)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup water
1 bottle pasta sauce (24 oz)
2 cups shredded, fat-free mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 eggs (1 egg and 1 white, really)
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 Tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
if you’re done collecting, time for some doing.
first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray nonstick cooking spray onto the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish.
pour a tiny drizzle of olive oil or some nonstick spray into a pan and add the minced garlic and turkey. stir, chop, turn and generally just agitate the ground turkey so you don’t have huge chunks. once it’s pretty much done cooking, add the water and pasta sauce. let it come to a boil and then lower the heat, cover it and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
while that’s on the stove simmering, start multitasking: in a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella (set the other 1/2 cup aside for later). also add one egg and one egg white, the parsley, basil, oregano and black pepper. stir until it’s all mixed together and make sure you break up the egg yolk during your mixing.
spoon some of the sauce off the top of the pot (try not to get meat in it) and put a thin layer at the bottom of the baking dish. this is just there so the raw noodles don’t cook to the bottom of the dish.
for the next layer, put four noodles horizontally across the dish. they can overlap a little, but they won’t reach all the way to the edge. that’s fine, because they’ll expand once they soak in the water and cook. when you put your topping layers on, they should go all the way to the edge, though, to encase the noodles and help them cook.
next layer, spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture all the way across.
after that, go with 1/3 of the turkey and sauce combination.
then more noodles in the same pattern as last time.
cheese (other half).
turkey/sauce (next 1/3).
noodles (four more).
finish off the turkey/sauce mixture (final 1/3).
if your dish is really shallow and you need to go one less layer, that’s fine — since everything will be expanding and heating up, you don’t want to pile it all the way to the very top or else you’re going to risk some serious overflowing in your oven.
now you’ll cover the entire thing with foil and pop it into the 350-degree oven for 50 minutes. once your timer goes off, take the dish out and uncover it - be careful, though. there is going to be a ton of steam trapped under the foil, so avoid burning yourself! also, the water and sauce will be pretty much boiling in there, so make sure you’re not sloshing it around.
after the 50 minutes are up and you have uncovered the lasagna, toss the foil and break out that final 1/2 cup of mozzarella you set aside earlier. sprinkle it across the top of the lasagna and let it bake for another 10 minutes. you could even let it bake for five and broil for five if you want some nicely browned bubbles on top.
before you attempt to serve it, make sure you let it sit for at least 15 minutes. i learned that the hard way. actually, i learned a couple of lasagna tips the hard way. the first time i ever attempted lasagna, i tried to get fancy and make it a “white” lasagna with some type of alfredo-esque sauce. i remembered people not cooking their noodles but forgot the detail about adding water to the sauce to compensate and cook the noodles. SO… i was unable to serve the crunchy noodle disaster.
the next time was for wednesday game night my senior year of college. it looked pretty good when i took it out of the oven and i cut into it right away to serve it. well… if you don’t let the lasagna cool and set a bit, you end up with lasagna soup. my poor guests had to sop up the saucy/cheesy mixture with italian bread and eat the noodles as an afterthought.
long story short, just let your lasagna rest for a little bit. mine still wasn’t the most perfectly-cuttable creation and it wasn’t too photogenic, but it tasted great and i didn’t feel like i had eaten a greasy food baby when i was done with dinner. it was a much lighter, healthier twist on a comfort food staple, but i didn’t feel like it was missing anything!
click here for a printable version of the recipe!