I can’t think of anything more comforting or more universally-loved than lasagna. Most families have their versions they go back to time and time again. There’s the traditional Italian version which is made with bolognese sauce, bechmael sauce, parmesan (no ricotta or mozzarella) and the American version made with ground beef (or leftover meatballs), marinara, ricotta, and mozzarella. There are countless veggie versions and even kinds made with tortillas. This time around I decided to go all-American, but with one substitute a la the Barefoot Contessa, turkey sausage. Here you have it–her fabulous version of American lasagna. I slightly adapted her recipe in 2 ways. 1) I omitted goat cheese–only because I don’t care for it. 2) I substituted no-boil lasagna noodles to cut back on time.
First you cook the onions and garlic, add the ground turkey sausage, and all of the basic red sauce ingredients.
Then the fun part… the layering. A quick stir of ricotta, grated parmesan, egg, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper–and that forms the creamy layer comb. I constructed each layer as such: sauce, lasagna pasta sheet, shredded mozzarella, ricotta mixture. I repeated this 4 times and then topped with additional grated parmesan and mozzarella. Then the oven does the rest of the work for you. Note: using no-boil lasagna sheets is a MAJOR time saver–and I really taste zero difference to the boiled kind. This makes lasagna such an easy thing to make–it doesn’t need to be saved for a Sunday afternoon of cooking in a hot kitchen.
To get a nice firm texture, with layers all in tact, let the lasagna sit on top of the stove after removing from the oven for 10 minutes. If you cut right into it, it will ooze everywhere. Trust me–it will still be piping hot after sitting. A couple of lovely seeded breadsticks and supper doesn’t get much better or easier.
TURKEY SAUSAGE LASAGNA
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
• 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
• 15 ounces ricotta cheese
• 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
• 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
4. Ladle 1/4 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: 3 sheets of pasta, 1/4 the mozzarella, 1/4 the ricotta, and one 1/4 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and sauce for 4 total layers. Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.