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Recipe Re-Do: White Lasagna with Turkey and Spinach

Published on Monday, March 3, 2014

We’re only two months in, but this year has already been very busy for me! Between traveling with Beck’s to the winter tradeshows, planning my upcoming wedding, and typical responsibilities, I haven’t had a lot of evenings or weekends at home. And when I am home, I haven’t had that much time, or energy for that matter, to plan what to make for dinner. Does anyone else ever feel like that?

For me, this is not the best thing, as I am still trying to focus on eating healthy (to stay fit for that wedding dress). I want something that tastes good, (I can only do so much salad in one week), but is still easy and that doesn’t require that much advanced planning.

Many nights, I find myself searching in my pantry to see what I can come up with. I also recently moved to a town that is further away from the nearest Walmart so my grocery trips aren’t as frequent. I should be used to this, since we lived 20 minutes from the nearest Walmart when I was growing up – but my college house and first apartment happened to be very close to major grocery stores so I’ve been a little spoiled by convenience these past few years.

But now that things are starting to slow down a little bit, at least on the traveling side of things, I decided to set a goal for myself: find new ways to use what I already have on hand.

This will be a good thing for several reasons: it saves me money in not having to buy little lists of ingredients at the time; it reduces waste – not letting that whole bag of lettuce I buy, that I SWEAR I will use all of for salads this time, go bad; and helps to broaden my recipes by forcing me to be more creative and experiment with more flavors!

This weekend was my first attempt to stick to this goal and it turned out to be fantastic! The recipe I want to share with you today is one that was inspired by Food Network’s Guy Fieri, but altered by me to use the ingredients I already had in my fridge and pantry.

               

I first got the idea for this recipe last weekend while watching “Guy’s Big Bite” on the Food Network. He was making “White Lasagna with Spicy Turkey Sausage and 'Shrooms.” It looked awesome, but I didn’t have the time to make it that day but definitely made sure to keep it in mind for a later date.

Fast forward to a couple days ago when I was looking in my fridge and realized that I STILL hadn’t used that bag of spinach that I bought, and I had some half & half left, as well as several different types of cheeses. (Dairy products are the one food category that I am RARELY out of – can you tell what type of farmer’s granddaughter I am?)

Anyway, I also had ground turkey that I just bought and all of a sudden, it hit me – I should make that White Lasagna! The only ingredients I needed were the lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese, which I quickly picked up at the local market.

Lasagna isn’t the quickest dish to make, but this one is totally worth it! This is the perfect dish for Sunday supper or if friends or family are coming over for dinner.

The directions are a little labor intensive, but I tried to break it down with simple instructions for you. And if you want to skip the step-by-step, you can skip to the end where the whole recipe card is featured.

Start by preheating your oven to 350oF and collecting all your ingredients – I find this is helpful since in the past, I have had a tendency to forget an ingredient half way through. (A girl can’t be perfect all the time, right?)

                         

Start by making the white sauce first. Bring a medium saucepan to low-medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in the flour with a wooden spoon; cook for 2 minutes (do not let it color). Add the milk, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, continuing to stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add in the 3/4 cup Parmesan, whisking to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

For the lasagna: In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and cook the turkey until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and mushrooms. Continue to saute until golden brown and the turkey is cooked through, 4 to 6 additional minutes. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Stir well, and then shut off the heat and set aside to cool.

While turkey and sauce mixtures are cooling, remove stems from spinach and roughly chop. Then, in a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, remaining Parmesan, about 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and a little pepper.
 
                           
                                    I start by easily beating egg in the bowl first to break the
                                       yoke and make it easier to combine with the ricotta.


When you’re ready to assemble, make yourself a little work station with all ingredients near your baking dish – this helps to make the process faster, as well as prevent you from accidentally missing a step!

Assembling instructions: Begin by spreading 1/4 cup of the white sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 in. nonreactive baking dish (I used my Pampered Chef bakeware dish, but any glass or ceramic casserole dish is fine). Then layer with 3 noodles, followed with about 1 cup ricotta mixture. Layer about half of the spinach evenly over the ricotta. Follow with half the turkey mixture, finishing with 1 cup white sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat. Top the second layer with 4 noodles, white sauce and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Bake, covered with foil or lid, for 30 minutes.  

                            

Remove from the oven and remove the lid or foil cover. Heat the broiler to maximum temperature (I used 500oF). Broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 1 minute. Be sure to WATCH CLOSELY to prevent burning! Let cool and garnish with the parsley when serving. Makes 8 servings, depending on size of pan.

Seriously guys. This. Is. SO. Awesome. I mean it, I figured it would be good (what dish with alfredo sauce and cheese isn’t) but this was even better than I thought it would be! I will definitely be making this one again. And despite being a little “lighter” than the traditional lasagna since I used ground turkey and spinach, it even passed the “man test” – my fiancé even loved it!

In the end, I actually liked creating a recipe with ingredients I already had on hand. I looked at it as a creative challenge and I was proud which what I came up with!

       
                Tip: Right click and select "Save Image As" to print the recipe and keep it for yourself!

With spring quickly approaching, creating wholesome meals with minimal planning is something that many farm families, or all families for that matter, can relate to. With planting, sports and 4-H meetings starting up in the coming months, things are only going to get busier. But it’s still important to make time to have a meal together – whether it’s around the kitchen table or on the tailgate of the farm truck.

So during the month of March, I’d like to challenge you to try this at home too! What delicious recipes can you create from things you already have? If you have kids that like to cook or bake, get them involved!

If you take my challenge and create a recipe, leave a comment below with how it turned out! Or if you already have a recipe you created from random ingredients, share those as well! I’m always up for trying new dishes!

Gosh, I just realized it’s 5 o’clock! All of this writing has me thinking of that lasagna waiting at home in my fridge. I’m headed home to have another piece!

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Chelsea O'Brien
Chelsea O'Brien>

Chelsea O'Brien

Beck's Hybrids marketing associate, social media specialist, southern Indiana native and advocate of agriculture.

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