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Overhead shot of baking dish full of cheesy lasagna.

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Homemade Lasagna with Ground Turkey Meat Sauce

Avoiding red meat? This cheesy and meaty homemade lasagna is lightened up with a ground turkey meat sauce. It's so flavorful, you won't miss the beef.
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

Lasagna.

  • 1 lb whole-milk ricotta cheese, strained, *See notes.
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lb no-boil (oven-ready) lasagna noodles
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced very thin

Ground Turkey Meat Sauce.

  • 1 35 oz can of Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2-1 cup chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Equipment

  • Baking dish
  • Tin foil

Instructions 

To make the ground turkey meat sauce.

  • Pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with a fine disc over a large mixing bowl. Or, you could simply place the tomatoes and their juices into the large mixing bowl and crush them very well with your hands, leaving the sauce a little chunkier.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden brown—about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic to the pot and stir until the garlic has softened and is aromatic—about one minute.
  • Transfer the ground turkey to the pot and season it lightly with a few pinches of salt. (You can always add more salt later if needed.) Bring to a simmer, stirring the meat and breaking it down as it cooks, until the meat has changed color and the water from it has evaporated—about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the bay leaves and oregano, then add the wine. Bring to a simmer and scrape away any brown pan bits with a spoon or spatula. Simmer until the wine has fully evaporated.
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir until the tomato paste has completely melted into the sauce.
  • Add another pinch of salt, bring the sauce to a boil, and let it simmer uncovered for about 2-3 hours. By this time, the sauce should be deep red in color.
  • Add a bit of broth at a time as necessary to maintain the level of liquid for the length of time the sauce cooks. You could also use water, but I find broth brings on more flavor.
  • When ready, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
  • This sauce will keep in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to five days and in the freezer for three months.

To make the lasagna.

  • Preheat the oven to 375º F.
  • Ladle about 3/4 cup of the meat sauce into a 11.5 x 8-inch baking dish. (These are the dimensions of the pan I used. You can use something close to that.)
  • Spread the sauce over the bottom to cover as much as you can—it doesn't have to be perfectly even.
  • Arrange noodles lengthwise, side by side, to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon about 2 cups of meat sauce over the noodles to cover the noodles in an even layer. Sprinkle the sauce evenly with ½ cup of the grated cheese.
  • Place a single layer of noodles, now crosswise, over the cheese.
  • With a spatula, spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles.Again, arrange a single layer of noodles, lengthwise, over the ricotta.
  • Distribute the sliced mozzarella in an even layer over the noodles.
  • Spread 1 cup of the meat sauce over the mozzarella, then sprinkle 1 cup of grated cheese over the sauce.
  • Cover the cheese with a layer of noodles arranged lengthwise.
  • Spoon enough meat sauce, about 2 cups, over the noodles in an even layer and sprinkle the sauce with the remainder of the cheese.
  • Loosely cover the lasagna with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes to brown the cheese; you could also give your lasagna a few minutes under the broiler to really brown the cheese and give youa. few crispy noodles on top.
  • Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Notes

To strain ricotta, place a cheesecloth over a sieve or strainer, and place that over a bowl. Dump the ricotta into the sieve, and let it sit in the fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours to get the majority of the water out.
This recipe yields 6 servings, but doubling this recipe with a larger pan is easy: just double all of the ingredients. The cooking time should remain the same.
 
*Inspired by Lidia Bastianich, Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen