If you’re looking for nothing-like-home comfort food that feeds a crowd and you can make ahead, this Turkey Bolognese Lasagna is for you. It combines all the great flavors of a traditional bolognese with a tad less guilt using ground turkey and turkey sausage. But still full of ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese!
While homemade lasagna is a labor of love, the steps are broken down into a time-friendly fashion. One day before assembling, you can make the sauce and ricotta-mozzarella cheese mixture. And, the lasagna itself can be put together a day before baking. So all you have to do when guests arrive is pop it in the oven. Love that!
When it comes to cooking lasagna noodles, raise your hand if you ever had over half just stick together and rip when prying them apart. Yep, been there too. I’ve found adding a bit of olive oil to the boiling water helped prevent sticking along with transferring the pasta directly to a large bowl of cool water when done. This way the starches don’t get the chance to glue the noodles, which by the way, can bring out the worst in home chefs.
Also, the key to a Goldilocks lasagna, not dry and not runny, but just right is boiling the noodles for 4 minutes and 4 minutes only. They’re just beginning to soften at that point which is perfect for absorbing some sauce while baking but not as much had you just layered them in raw. I’m not a fan of the texture of no-boil noodles, but if you’ve found a good brand, I’ll give them a whirl! Once the sauce, cheese mixture, and pasta are lined up, let the layering fun begin.
Once puffed and bubbly, rewarm the remaining sauce and start grating the parm. You’re about to be rewarded for all your efforts. Enjoy!
If you’re craving more make-ahead comfort food, check out our Classic Meatballs and Tomato Sauce, Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Chili, and Turkey Enchilada Stuffed Peppers. Have fun feeding a full house! Cheers!!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 ½ cups)
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
- 1 lb sweet turkey sausage, casings removed (use spicy if desired)
- 1 lb ground turkey
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lb lasagna noodles (do not use no-boil!)
- 1 16-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded (about 4 cups)
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat oil in a 5-quart, high-rimmed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots. Sauté until vegetables begin to caramelize, 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds. Cook 1 minute. Add sausage and ground turkey. Sauté until meats are browned, about 8-10 minutes, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon. Deglaze pan with wine; boil 1 minute. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Sauce can be made 1 day ahead of assembling lasagna. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 15x11x2 baking dish. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (this will help keep the noodles from sticking together). Cook noodles for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. With a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer lasagna noodles to a large bowl of cool water, then lay each noodle flat on a baking sheet or two to prevent sticking.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 ½ cups mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan, egg, fresh basil, and pepper. Set aside.
Spread 2 cups sauce over bottom of prepared dish. Arrange ⅓ of noodles over sauce, either crosswise or lengthwise depending on noodle shape, overlapping to fit. Spread ⅓ of cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with ⅓ of remaining mozzarella cheese. Top with 2 cups sauce, then ½ of remaining noodles, ½ of remaining cheese mixture, and ½ of remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat one more time with 2 cups sauce, the rest of the noodles and cheese mixture. Spread 2 more cups of sauce over top. Rewarm remaining sauce to pass around when ready to serve. Sprinkle lasagna with remaining mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour before baking.) Bake uncovered until heated through and puffed, 35-40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
*Republished post with updated photos.