Lasagna is definitely a labor of love. It takes time for the assembly, but the end result is worth every minute. I prefer to use ground turkey in place of beef; I think it lets the flavors of the sauces shine through. There are three things that make this version of lasagna amazing…fresh baby spinach, turkey meat sauce and a béchamel sauce that is made with boursin cheese.
Tomatoes are considered a functional food because they contain lycopene, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Lycopene works as an antioxidant to protect our cells from free radicals (cause cell and tissue damage, and aging effects) and the formation of LDL fats. Cooking tomatoes actually increases their health benefits. While fresh tomatoes contain some lycopene, cooked tomatoes contain more because the heat from cooking breaks down cell walls in tomatoes to release lycopene. Cooking tomatoes in a little oil can actually increase lycopene’s absorption, because like all carotenoids, it is fat-soluble.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
|Tomato sauce (½ cup)||21.9|
|Tomato puree (½ cup)||20.8|
|Marinara sauce (½ cup)||20.0|
|Tomato paste (2 Tbsp)||18.2|
|Tomato juice (½ cup)||13.2|
|Vegetable cocktail juice (V-8) (½ cup)||11.7|
|Tomato, raw (½ cup)||8.3|
|Pink grapefruit (1 medium)||8.0|
I start by preparing the sauces. I love this meat sauce, it also goes well with spaghetti. I sauté some onions and garlic, add the turkey and cook until it has browned. Drain off any liquid in the saucepan. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and sauce (all great sources of lycopene). Give a good stir and then add the seasonings. It’s important for this sauce not to be too watery or your lasagna will be runny.
Now the béchamel sauce…oh boy, this is delicious! Start by making a basic white sauce, by melting butter in a saucepan and slowly whisking in the flour. You need to let this cook for a minute or so to eliminate the flour taste. To keep your sauce from becoming lumpy you will need to gradually add the milk while whisking. So add a little milk, whisk and as it starts to thicken, add more milk-continue to do so until you have added all the milk. Make sure you get the whisk to the bottom of the pan so that all the flour gets incorporated.
Once this part is done you are ready to add the Boursin. Break off pieces and add to the sauce a little at time, whisking to help melt and incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep on low heat until ready to use, stirring occasionally.
I love the fresh spinach in the lasagna. It creates a nice contrast of colors and the flavor blends well with the sauces. I like to add a double layer of fresh baby spinach to the middle of the lasagna, it helps the spinach not get too wilted.
- For Meat Sauce
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
- 1 cup sweet yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 2 tsp each dried basil, thyme, and oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes in puree
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For Bechamel
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup all-Purpose flour
- 3 cups skim milk
- 6 oz spreadable Boursin cheese
- Salt to taste
- 1 lb lasagna noodles
- 1 lb shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 6 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.
- In a large saucepan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add ground turkey to pan and brown. Drain off any liquid that is in pan.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add ¼ cup water to pan and stir.
- Add seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
- In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Gradually stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly add a little milk to flour, whisking to incorporate. Continue until sauce is smooth. Add pieces of Boursin to sauce, whisking to keep sauce smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to low until ready to use.
- Spray cooking spray on the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan.
- Spread a thin layer of the meat sauce on bottom of pan. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread meat sauce over noodles and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Add another layer of noodles. Top with white sauce and a double layer of fresh spinach. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- Add another layer of noodles. Top with meat sauce to completely cover noodles. Spread mozzarella and parmesan over meat sauce.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and top is browned. Let sit for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting.
This version is made healthier by using skim milk, part-skim mozzarella and lean ground turkey. Best of all it taste delicious and is fresh and creamy.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics