One of my favorite things growing up was my Grandma’s lasagna. ‘Guela, as we called her, often had the formidable task of feeding two growing boys with giant appetites. Lasagna was the perfect meal. If I was home while she cooked, I would keep close to the kitchen to watch her. She moved effortlessly through all the stages of making the dish, a master at work, while filling the living room with the intoxicating aroma of garlic, tomato, and herbs.
Fast-forward to today, and nothing has changed about my feelings towards lasagna. The blend of full fat ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, Italian sausage, and ground beef is delicious but comes at a price. First, I am not as graceful as ‘Guela, so the dish takes a long time to come together. And while I ultimately enjoy the result of my efforts, I am in a food coma within minutes. The time, heaviness, and resulting mess of a kitchen afterwards make this a less than ideal weekday recipe!
Awhile back, we purchased The Best Light Recipe cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, and I was intrigued seeing their version of everyday lasagna. It’s simple, a bit lighter, but does not skimp on deliciousness in any way. We have been making this for years and love it. Jessica, who is incapable of leaving a good recipe be, has tinkered with it for some time now, and her take on it is a staple in our at-home menu. The blend of lower fat cheeses makes this a lighter, everyday meal, but without sacrificing taste. The sauce is garlicky and thick. Red meat is replaced with turkey, the serving size is nice and filling, and we love the no-boil noodles that cut down on prep time. There is nothing about this that reminds me about those low-cal, microwave lasagna’s that I lived on through college.
This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen The Best Light Recipe.
2 24 ounce jars of pasta sauce
1 pound ground turkey
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped and divided
16 ounces fat free ricotta
12 ounces low-fat shredded mozzarella, divided
1 ounce freshly shredded parmesan
1 large egg
6 no-cook lasagna noodles
Seasonings (garlic powder, Italian seasonings, anything else you like in your pasta sauce)
- Heat a large pan over medium heat, spray with oil and add the turkey.
- Break up the meat while it browns.
- Once cooked, add 1 full jar of sauce and 2/3rds of the second jar (you’ll use the last 1/3 for lasagna assembly later).
- Simmer the sauce and season to taste with garlic, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper, and anything else that sounds good.
- Remove from heat and mix in ½ of the fresh chopped basil.
- In a large bowl, mix the following with a spatula until well-blended: ricotta, parmesan, 8 oz of the mozzarella, 1 egg, remaining chopped basil, 2 pinches of salt, and a pinch of ground pepper.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Spread the reserved 1/3 jar of pasta sauce over the bottom of a 9x13” baking dish.
- Evenly spread all of the cheese mixture onto 3 of the noodles.
- Place the cheese covered noodles in the sauce coated baking dish.
- Spread about a third of the meat sauce over the noodles and cheese.
- Top with the remaining 3 noodles followed by the remaining sauce.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375° for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Let cool slightly before serving.
Note on ingredients: I highly recommend the low-fat shredded mozzarella from Trader Joe’s. It tastes great and melts smother than a lot of full fat cheeses. For the no-cook lasagna noodles I like Barilla. Don’t buy 99% fat free turkey – it will be tough and chewy.