Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hold the bricks please...

This holiday season has been wonderful so far. Though I have to admit they've been used as my personal gateway to gluttony. There is something about special occasions that make you feel calorically invincible. And I guess if it's just one day, like your birthday, then it really can't do too much harm. However, the winter holidays are several weeks of parties, fantastically fattening beverages like eggnog and feasts that spare nothing. Tonight I wanted to take a break from all the richness so I set out to make a really fresh and light lasagna. I know lasagna isn't the first thing that pops into mind when you think "light". It usually sits in your stomach like a brick. But it's quite healthy if you use low fat meats and cheeses and make it chock-full of veggies (hence the addition of carrots to the sauce). Plus I wanted something kid friendly. Making a lasagna can be quite time consuming but like I always say, you get several meals out of it. Eat some for dinner with a salad, maybe send the kids to school with some for lunch and then freeze the other half. If you are in a pinch for time or just don't feel like making the sauce yourself, use a good jarred marinara sauce. It's hard to beat making it from scratch though!  

This lasagna did turn out to fit the bill. With the melty cheese and hearty sausage pieces, it had enough legs to be satisfying. The brightness of the tomato sauce and minimal amount of grease kept it nice and light. 

Turkey Sausage Lasagna
 9 pieces of lasagna noodles
28 oz can of whole tomatoes with basil
14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes 
2 tbsp tomato paste
olive oil  
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tbsp garlic, chopped
2 small carrots, sliced
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp of fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
19.5 oz turkey sausage, removed from casings
1/2 lb ricotta cheese
2/3 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg, slightly beaten
Salt and pepper

Steam the carrots or cook them in the microwave (Place carrots in microwave-safe dish. Add a little water. Cover and cook on high for 3 minutes.).
Pulse the carrots and canned whole tomatoes in a food processor 12 times. I like it to be a little chunky still.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for about 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Pour in pulsed tomatoes and carrots, crushed tomatoes, oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and sugar, turn down the heat to medium-low once it starts simmering. Simmer for about18 minutes more. Set sauce aside. 

Place the ricotta, egg and 1/2 tsp of salt into a mixing bowl and mix well. 

Boil a large pot of water. When the water is boiling, place the lasagna noodles in and gently stir them in when they soften up. Turn off the heat. Let them sit in the hot water for 12 minutes. Make sure the noodles aren't sticking together. Drain and set aside laid out separated by wet paper towels to prevent sticking.  I don't boil the noodles according to package directions because I find they become overcooked and mushy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While noodles are softening, start sauteeing the mushrooms and sausage in a large frying pan with a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute, breaking up the pieces of sausage until all the liquid has evaporated and the meat is starting to brown. About 10 minutes. Set aside. 

Now you can start assembling the lasagna. In a 9 x13 baking dish, start with half your sausage/mushroom mixture. Pour 1/3 of the sauce on top. Lay some noodles on top (3 pieces per layer). Spread on the ricotta mixture. Then more noodles. Back to the sausage, sauce, noodles.  Finish off with the last of the sauce and the mozzarella on top.  Loosely cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes until slightly brown and bubbly.

*You could totally substitute the sausage with more veggies (ie. eggplant, zucchini) to make this meal vegetarian. Just make sure you season them with a little salt and pepper, even some fresh herbs.

Oh, and to my cherished readers, have a happy New Year! I look forward to a delicious 2010 with you all.