Thursday, July 8, 2010

Turkey and Zucchini Lasagna

Week 8 provided me with an overwhelming number of vegetables. There were 8 heads of lettuce (the most to date), beets, scallions, collards, dandelion greens, cabbage, Swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash, green garlic, and basil. What to do with it all? A variety of domestic difficulties and a holiday weekend prevented me from preparing most of these things. The lettuce, as always, was distributed to good homes near and far. I kept a few heads for our week-long salads. The Chinese cabbage became coleslaw.

After the long holiday weekend of eating anywhere but home, I realized that there was no dinner for Monday night. Scanning my refrigerator, I noticed the perfect combination of items that were about to go bad: ground turkey and an unopened container of ricotta. These items, together with a half-used box of lasagna noodles gave me the obvious answer: lasagna. But wait! I can't just make something without using at least one vegetable from the farm. At first, I wanted to layer in everything: chard, zucchini, and collards but then thought better of it. If the vegetables aren't disguised, my daughter won't eat it. (And even if they are disguised, there's a good chance she won't eat it anyway.) So I settled on just adding zucchini as a layer. After consulting a few different recipes, I created this combination:

Turkey and Zucchini Lasagna
(Print this recipe)

1 large, or 2 small zucchini (or any summer squash)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb. ground turkey
1 26 oz. jar of tomato sauce
1 15 oz. container of ricotta
1 egg
6+ sheets of no-boil lasagna noodles
8-16 oz. shredded mozzarella

1. Prepare the zucchini or squash first: Trim the ends off the zucchini and slice it length-wise into 1/8th inch slices.  Heat a pan on medium heat until hot. Add the olive oil and sauté garlic until fragrant, about a minute. Working in batches so that there is no overlap, lay the zucchini slices in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the slices to brown both sides. Remove from heat when they are as browned as you like them. Alternatively, you could also roast the slices in the oven.

2. While these are cooling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a pot, brown the ground turkey, breaking up any lumps. Once browned, drain the fat and put back on the stove. Skip this step to make a vegetarian version. Add tomato sauce and simmer until hot. My tomato sauce was on the runny side so I reduced it until it was thick. I also added a little sugar to my sauce to make it less acidic. Leave to cool a bit.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta with one egg. Mix thoroughly.

4. Next, it's time to assemble the lasagna. Using a pan with at least 1.5-2 inch high sides, spread half of the tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan. Lay the noodles on top making sure not to overlap them. Next, spread the ricotta mixture on top, then lay the zucchini slices on top of the ricotta mixture. It's okay to overlap these. Lay more noodles on top. Finally, spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top of the noodles and distribute the mozzarella cheese on top.

5. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and let the cheese melt and brown for an additional 5-10 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to slice.



  1. How about using zucchini instead of noodles to create the layers?

    hhhm... would basil or olives reduce the acidity in the sauce?

  2. I hadn't thought of using the zucchini instead of noodles. That sounds like a great idea, especially since I couldn't even taste the noodles in mine. But I don't have an answer to whether basil or olives would reduce the acidity.