I was in the mood for lasagna last night, but had a serious dilemma. My favorite lasagna in the world is from Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, CA. It's so authentically Italian, flavorful and robust that no other lasagna I've had holds a candle to it. They have two lasagnas that I absolutely can't get enough of: turkey and mixed vegetable. The turkey is simple yet delicious enough; layers of noodles, ground turkey and cheeses covered with meat sauce. The vegetable lasagna is chunky, packed with mushrooms, spinach, onions, cheeses and marinara sauce.
My dilemma? Last night I wanted both. As a result, I decided to experiment and make my own combo: turkey, spinach and mushroom lasagna with meat sauce. I headed to the grocery store and picked up everything I thought I needed. There was no actual recipe; I just made it by feel and by what I know Bryan and I love in our lasagna, trying to mimic Bay Cities as best I could. You know what? I think I nailed it, as evidenced by our empty plates! I already can't wait for leftovers!
So here it is: my turkey, mushroom and spinach lasagna "recipe."
- 1lb lean ground turkey
- 3 cups (26 oz jar) spaghetti sauce
- 3 cups spinach
- 2 cups diced white onion
- 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) sliced Crimini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 15 whole basil leaves
- 1/2 cup basil chiffonade, separated
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 3/4 cups (15 oz. container) low-fat ricotta cheese
- 3 cups (8 oz.) mixed low-fat shredded mozzarella, fontina and asiago cheeses
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, separated
- 12 pieces whole wheat lasagna, uncooked
Heat oven to 350°F. In a non-stick skillet, saute Crimini mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until liquid is evaporated, about 6-8 minutes. Add chopped white onion to pan and cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add spinach leaves one cup at a time and mix until wilted, about 2 minutes total. Transfer vegetable mixture to separate bowl and set aside.
Saute mushrooms & onion
Add spinach until wilted. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
Add ground turkey and one tablespoon garlic to pan and cook until meat is browned, making sure to separate all lumps. Drain liquid from meat and add tomato sauce to meat mixture; simmer until thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
Saute turkey and garlic until browned, breaking up lumps
Add marinara sauce and simmer for 8 minutes
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, one-half mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, 1/4 cup basil, salt and pepper.
Combine cheeses, egg, parsley, basil, salt and pepper
Spread about one cup sauce on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Arrange 4 UNCOOKED pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce; cover with one cup sauce. Spread one-half cheese filling over sauce.
Uncooked lasagna noodles.
Spread one cup tomato sauce on bottom of 13x9" pan
Spread cheese mixture on uncooked noodles.
Spread a thin layer of the mushroom, spinach and onions on top of the cheese mixture. Evenly sprinkle one cup shredded mozzarella and five basil leaves. Add 1/3 of the turkey marinara mixture.
Spread sauteed vegetables on top of cheese mixture.
Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and basil leaves
Add 1/3 of turkey and tomato mixture
Repeat one time, layering uncooked pasta, cheese mixture, sauteed vegetables, mozzarella and turkey tomato sauce. Top with final layer of pasta and remaining sauce; drop small spoonfuls of the remaining cheese mixture, cover with mozzarella cheese and chiffonade of basil.
Completed, uncooked lasagna layers
Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake additional 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly
Plate and ENJOY!