This past weekend was absolutely GORGEOUS in LA (despite my sports teams… that was dreadful). I spent a lot of time outside and with friends, which inspired this dinner I made Sunday night. Coming home from a hike, I wanted something hearty, but healthy. And I was craving cheese. Ding Ding Ding! How about a lasagna, made with eggplant and butternut squash instead of noodles? Done… and it was delicious.
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1/2 yellow onion
1 whole tomato
5 cloves garlic
2 tbs bacon fat (olive oil also works fine if you don’t store fat like me)
1 whole Eggplant
1 whole Butternut Squash
15 oz Ricotta Cheese
5 oz shaved Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded Parmesean (optional)
12 ounces Mozzarella cheese, in slices or shredded
1 cup milk
Basil (about 20-30 leaves, depending on the size of the pan you use)
1 can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Lasagna is all about assembly, so starting this is about making the components. Preheat the oven to 350 as well.
Add the bacon fat, or olive oil, to a large sauce pan. Slice the yellow onion into strips and add it to the pan. Get them working. Next, add the ground turkey and mince the 5 cloves of garlic. Get everything cooking and incorporated in the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
While the turkey is cooking, get a large pot boiling and insert a steamer. I learned on the first round of this lasagna, it is important to steam cook the vegetables first, or the bottom layers will not cook all the way through. If you don’t want to do this step, I think using a mandolin slicer to slice the vegetables really thin will also come out fine.
Slice the eggplant and butternut squash into half circles or rounds. I preferred half circles for geometry’s sake in my pan. Make each slice no more than 1/8 of an inch, and make them consistent! Once they are sliced, steam for about 10 minutes with a lid on the pot to par cook them and start to make the vegetables tender.
The turkey should be done at this point too. Once the turkey is all the way cooked through, remove it from the heat and place to the side. Dice up one tomato and add it to the mixture.
Now it is time for the cheese! Add the Ricotta, Parmesan, 4 eggs, and milk to a bowl. Whisk them all together. Normally, I would not add milk, but I wanted to thin this out to help cook the vegetables in the lasagna. In the end, the milk didn’t make a difference to the taste.
The vegetables should be done steaming at this point. After this, all you need to do is get your assembly line together: veggies, cheese mixture, turkey meat mixture, basil, tomato sauce and the sliced Mozzarella.
Get out your pan and add 1/4 cup tomato sauce and a little bit of the cheese mixture. Coat the bottom of the pan. Start with a layer of eggplant.
The idea here is to just begin to layer. What I did was alternate my turkey and cheese mixture layers in between alternating layers of eggplant and squash. I also made sure the center was a layer of basil and 6 slices of Mozzarella cheese. Every other layer should get a 1/4-1/2 cup of tomato sauce. I think photos tell a better story so here we go:
The top layer is the remaining 6 slices of Mozzarella. I also added about another 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Place it in the 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour.
When the lasagna comes out, it looks cheesy and bubbly and just about like a normal lasagna looks, just no noodles. The eggplant and squash make for delicious amazing layers in the lasagna. Honestly, I didn’t miss the noodles at all and everything tasted just like this pasta dish should have tasted.
Guilt free and oh so yummy. If you want to make it even healthier, you are more than able to buy low fat cheese options to use in this dish. Seeing as I had just gone on a big hike, I opted for the fat.