Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lazy Man's Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese

I confess to having been a terrible Lasagna snob.  I think true lasagna is rich in béchamel sauce, with a ragu that’s been melding flavors for hours in an all-afternoon of cooking and reducing and tasting.  My kitchen has been draped with crinkle-edged lasagna noodles parboiled on the stove more times than I can remember.  And I still make lasagna that way.  Not for me the Americanized versions that I’d been subjected to at some long-ago student dinners.  The version I found most awful was the one with cottage cheese.  But I was craving a baked pasta dish when I came across a recipe in Bon Appetit that gave a prep time of 45 minutes and then baked for another 45.  This sounded very do-able on a weeknight.  But believe it or not, I managed to cut the time down to a little over an hour!  And this lasagna, while hardly authentic Italian, is absolutely terrific.  It’s so good, it should be emailed to everyone in the family who says they can’t cook.  It’s so good, it would convince a girl to marry the guy who made it.   And since this recipe is for 4 servings, you won’t be left eating a huge pan of lasagna until Spring.  Served with a green salad, it’s a dinner not to be forgotten.
Okay.  I hope I’ve convinced you to make this or at the very least send it to your son –the one you’re never sure is eating right. I guarantee he can make this.  The first thing you need is the best Marinara sauce you can buy.  I chose Trader Joe’s which is a very meat-y tomato-based Marinara sauce.  I then took a little over a pound of turkey sausage, removed it from its casings and added it directly to the Marinara sauce.  While it cooked away, the no-boil lasagna noodles were bathing in a bowl of warm water, softening up and absorbing some liquid.  These flat postcard sized noodles should replace those much thicker, crinkle-edged noodles in your pantry.  The No-Boil noodles are heads and tails above the traditional ones you likely grew up with.   While the newly-formed ‘turkey bolognese’ bubbles away, three cheeses are combined with 2 tablespoons of dried oregano.  Please don’t go all diet-y and try to use low fat cheeses.  I don’t think they work as well. With turkey practically fat-free, You need some in this dish. Whole milk ricotta is a creamy delight.  It’s paired with whole milk shredded mozzarella—you can even cheat here and buy the pre-shredded bags of the stuff.  Finally freshly grated parmesan is added.  From there, it’s just a matter of layering the ingredients and topping the whole thing off with shredded mozzarella and parmesan.
Into the oven, from which it emerges 45 minutes or so later puffed up and beautifully browned.  My, is it good!  Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Lazy Man’s Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese.
Prep Time 30 minutes. Total Time 1 hr. 15 minutes.
4 servings in an 8 x 8 x 2 pyrex dish.  Can be doubled in 13 x 9 x 2 pyrex or baking dish.

1 pound Sweet or Spicy Italian turkey sausages, casings removed
1 28 oz. Jarred or Canned Marinara sauce
½ cup dry White Wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried oregano
1 8-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole- milk mozzarella cheese (8 ounces) divided in two
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
8  6 1/2 x 3 1/4-inch no-boil lasagna noodles

Place noodles in large bowl; cover with hot water. Soak until pliable, separating occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Heat the Marinara sauce in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the bits of sausage directly to the marinara sauce; sauté until sausage is cooked through, breaking into pieces, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all the ricotta, half the mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 tablespoons of oregano in medium bowl; stir to blend. Season with pepper.

Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with 2 noodles, arranging crosswise. Drop 1/4 of cheese mixture over by tablespoonfuls; spread out. Top with 1 cup sauce, then 2 more noodles and 1/3 of remaining cheese mixture. Repeat 2 more times with 1 cup sauce, 2 noodles, and 1/2 of cheese mixture. Spread any remaining sauce over. Sprinkle with the rest of the shredded Mozzarella and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Bake lasagna uncovered until heated through and puffed, about 50 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.