with Italian Sheep Ricotta and Homemade Italian Turkey Sausage
gluten-free, cow dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, pork-free
It is about time. Lasagna time. I’ve waited long enough to find Tinkyada Lasagne Pasta and Italian Sheep Ricotta simultaneously in my local grocery store. It has not been easy. In fact, it has been nearly unbearable.
You see, I am Italian. So, lasagna is my prey according to the laws of Nature. It’s all part of the food chain. I am playing my role in the ecosystem. Really. I honestly believe my body needs pasta as part of a healthy, balanced diet. It’s kind of like the whole “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” philosophy. Blood type O? Your body is healthiest when your diet is cavemanly carnivorous. Italian? Your body is healthiest when your diet is Pavarotti-ly pasta-vorous. It’s science.
So when the weekly pangs for pasta hit me last night, I decided to go for the jugular. The pasta jugular… Like, marinara would just be a limb because it’s just about the sauce…. but lasagna is the jugular because it’s sauce and meat and ricotta… is this metaphor still making sense (did it ever?)? Well, it’s doing it for me. Except “going for the pasta jugular” just made me think of a piece of lasagna shaped like a person and me as a vampire at its neck. This gives the predator/prey metaphor a whole new angle: vampires. Because that’s exactly what it needs. Because we definitely don’t have enough vampire in American culture and entertainment right now.
Wow. This post is excellent. Almost as excellent as this lasagna was last night. This might look like a lot of work. Do not be intimidated – it really isn’t. And it is COMPLETELY worth it. This is one of the best meals I’ve had in years.
1 box Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Lasagna
1 – 1/2 lbs Italian Turkey Sausage (see homemade recipe below)
1 28 oz can La Valle Whole Italian Plum Peeled Tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 oz Italian sheep ricotta
3-4 Tbsp grated Locatelli pecorino romano
1 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
NOTE: If you’re intolerant to casein or lactose, sheep/goat cheese makes a great substitute as it lacks both! Feel free to use cow milk ricotta if you’d prefer. But damn… the sheep one takes me straight to Italy. :)
1. Cut off stem ends of tomatoes, place in blender with all the juice as well. Blend till frothy. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil over low heat in large pan. Add onions when oil is hot. Sauté 2 minutes then add garlic. Sauté till onions are transparent and garlic is golden.
3. Pour blended tomatoes into pan with onions and garlic. Turn to med or med/high heat. Add salt and stir.
4. Add homemade turkey sausage and stir. Let sauce boil for 25 minutes. Cover partially and add water if sauce gets too thick.
5. Meanwhile, boil lasagna pasta. This can be done in the traditional way, or the pasta can be placed in a 9 x 13″ pyrex dish with boiling water and covered for about 20 minutes. This keeps the pasta intact better. Add more boiling water halfway through if necessary.
6. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 2 Tbsp of the Locatelli, and the parsley. Set aside.
7. Once pasta is done, drain.
8. Once sauce is done cooking, turn the heat off. Place sauce in Vita Mix or blender and blend on a medium speed for a few seconds. I do this to ground the sausage a little more finely – like a Bolognese – so that it will spread more easily.
9. Begin assembling the lasagna. Spread thin layer of sauce on bottom of 9 x 13″ pyrex dish. Place 4 lasagna noodles side by side on the bottom. Spoon about 1/3 of the sauce onto the noodles. Evenly spoon about 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat. Finish the assembly with a final layer of noodles and sauce. Sprinkle remaining Locatelli cheese on top.
10. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil in final 10 minutes. Sauce should be bubbling a little before it is taken out of the oven.
Italian Turkey Sausage
1 – 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey (free range, antibiotic/hormone-free)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 rounded tsp ground black pepper
1 rounded Tbsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tsp cayenne pepper (less or omit completely if you are not a fan of spicy)
3 Tbsp dry red wine
1. Mix raw meat in bowl with all spices. Knead until mixed well.
2. Brown meat over medium heat with splash of olive oil or olive oil spray. Add red wine. Break meat apart as it cooks till it is finely ground.