There is a story behind this recipe. There's always a story, right?
photo by Brian
Let's go back to December, the month of social obligations and double-bookings. On one of the Fridays in December, we were invited to a both Festivus party and a Christmas caroling event. Jake and I decided to divide and conquer: he went to Festivus and I went caroling. However, the former was a potluck and I offered, despite not attending myself, to bring whatever the hosts requested and would send it with Jake.
Not too long after my offer, I received a text that I read as 'lasagna with no f'ing carrots.' Okay, there is a story behind the 'no carrot' demand as well. I missed one little word in the order and simply replied, "Done."
It turns out this was requested, not by the hosts, but by one of my best friends who has had my lasagna many, many times. In fact, his wife requests it for her birthday. It's my Oft-Requested Lasagna with however many meats and cheeses inspire me that day. But usually it is at least three meats - beef, pork, and chicken sausages - and at least seven cheeses - asiago, fresh mozzarella, aged mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano, cottage, and provolone. However, over time, said friend has stopped eating red meat and only eats poultry. I forgot that one tiny detail and, as I said, missed one tiny word in the original text which actually read: "TURKEY lasagna with no f'ing carrots."
So I dropped my three meat, seven cheese lasagna for Brian to bake and bring to Festivus. When he asked me what was in it, I told him "Oh, ground beef, ground pork, and chicken sausages." He didn't say a word. He took it from me, baked it, and brought it to the party. Then, he used it as his grip for the year: "I asked for a turkey lasagna with no carrots and Cam gives me a three meat lasagna with a middle finger carrot on top!" Well, my husband videotaped the gripe and I was simultaneously mortified (that I missed that one single word) and amused (that Brian couldn't even eat what he had 'demanded' I make for Festivus). I promised to make him a turkey lasagna for his birthday.
My kids' reactions were funny when we told them the story. R said, "Of course you didn't see the 'turkey' part, you don't buy turkey. You don't even cook turkey on the holiday that people cook turkey for!" It's true. I haven't roasted a turkey in over twenty-five years, so my kids have definitely never seen me buy a whole turkey much less ground turkey.
Flash forward to this week, his 51st birthday. I send him a photo of turkey bacon from the store, asking, "I can put this in your lasagna, right?" Here's how the text exchange went...
C: It's turkey.
B: No. Just ground turkey and 7 cheese.
C; You clearly don't understand layering flavors and textures.
B: And you clearly don't follow directions.
All true. Fine. So I got up on the morning of his birthday and made his boring 'just ground turkey' and seven cheese lasagna. I sent two pans' worth because they were serving eight people and I always over-feed.
makes one 9"x13" pan
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 pounds ground turkey
1 jar tomato sauce
1 (large) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
no boil lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella, asiago, provolone)
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 cup fresh mozzarella ciliegie
1 cup whole milk ricotta
In a large, flat-bottom pan, sauté the onions in a splash of olive oil until the onions are softened and translucent. Add in the ground turkey and cook till browned through completely.
Add in the tomato sauce, wine, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in herbs, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit if you are going to bake as soon as you've assembled. Or, once these are assembled and the sauce is completely cooled, they can be covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.
To assemble the lasagna, layer meat sauce, noodles, shredded cheese blend, cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and more meat sauce. Repeat till your pan is full though the last layer should be meat so that the noodles are completely covered.
Cover with foil. Bake in the 375 degree F oven for 6o to 75 minutes. Remove the foil. The sides should be bubbling. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan. Return pan to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese melted and beginning to brown.
To add to this funny tale, Jake saw the second pan of turkey lasagna on the counter and asked if that was for us. "Nope, I didn't keep a boring just ground turkey lasagna." And I promised to make a multiple meat version for us that evening. Ours had ground beef, ground pork, (leftover) venison meatballs, and artichoke-garlic chicken sausages. Definitely not Brian-allowed or approved. We loved it!
But his crew really appreciated the lasagna. Apparently everyone had seconds and even his brother's fiancée chimed in on a video, declaring that it was the "best f'ing lasagna" she's ever had. And she is a trained chef. I'll take it!