This is one of my favorite meals to make for my gluten free husband and my picky kids. It’s also been requested by my close friend Mimi and her hubbie Mark!!! I include organic noodles for the kids and replace the noodles with thin slices of butternut squash for my husband and me. I include some of the super thin slices of squash on the kids’ side of the lasagna and they usually eat it, although my son will eat around it sometimes….argh!!!! I may try pureeing the squash so he can’t pick it out in the future. Also, I sometimes substitute the ricotta cheese for tofu. It tastes just as good because neither of those ingredients actually have a strong taste so it’s all about how to flavor it! My sauce is made from scratch and has lots of onions and other vegetables which helps make this lasagna extra tasty and healthy!
As far as why this is good for you according to TCM, here’s the breakdown:
Tomato sauce – detoxifying, a powerhouse of nutrition, and rich in lycopene which helps prevent cancer and other chronic diseases
Ground turkey – good for the spleen/stomach and kidney yang and will help keep you warm during these cold days and is high in protein
Butternut squash – good for the spleen/stomach – full of fiber, potassium and vitamin A
Onions – qi tonic, great for the immune system and full of antioxidants. Shallots are even more beneficial!
Parmesan – calcium rich, protein rich, has some Vitamin A and makes everything taste better!
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 onion or about 4 shallots
3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 lbs of ground turkey
16 ounces ricotta cheese or medium firm tofu
bunch of basil washed and separated into pieces
1 large butternut squash
lasagna noodles – optional
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese
3/4 pound parmesan cheese
1-2 cups of tomato sauce
TOMATO SAUCE INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
3 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 28 oz cans of tomatoes
1 5.5 oz can of tomato paste
2 28 oz of filtered water
5 celery stalks
TOMATO SAUCE RECIPE:
I’d recommend making the tomato sauce first. Finely chop the onions and add to a skillet, I prefer iron, with the coconut oil. Sauté on medium for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 3-5 minutes, add the brown sugar and about a tablespoon of water so the onions don’t get too dry. The onions should turn soft, opaque and brown when they are fully caramelized.
While the onions are cooking, chop up the carrots and celery. No need to chop too finely because you will puree everything with a hand blender or blender at the end. Add the vegetables to the onions and salt and pepper them to taste, about a tsp each. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes, adding water if necessary. Then add the cans of tomatoes, tomato paste and water and boil. After the sauce starts to boil, simmer on medium for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce looks thick enough. Add the other 2 tablespoons of brown sugar or to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Puree with a blender so sauce is smooth and lovely!
Now for the lasagna!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Chop the onions or shallots and sauté them until they are caramelized, about 10 minutes, adding the brown sugar halfway through with a tablespoon of water.
While the onions are cooking, flavor the meat with some salt and pepper and really mash in the seasonings into the meat with your hands. Massaging the seasoning into the meat really ensures the meat is well flavored. After the onions are nice and caramelized, chop the garlic and add to the onions.
Then add the seasoned ground turkey and chop up the ground turkey while it’s cooking. This prevents it from lumping together. When the meat is cooked through, add the tomato sauce, about 2 cups or more depending on if you like your lasagna saucy. I add extra sauce to get more veggies in. Season if needed.
Meanwhile, if you’re using noodles, cook them as directed. I like to undercook mine as I use a lot of sauce which helps soften the noodles.
Prepare the ricotta or tofu by adding an egg and some salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of each. If you’re using tofu, mash it with a fork or your hands until it has a ricotta like consistency.
Prepare the squash by first peeling it. I use a carrot peeler but you can also just cut the skin off. Then I cut it into very fine slices. If the slices are too thick they will not cook. Alternatively, you can also roast the slices to ensure proper texture. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and roast at 400 for 15 minutes turning once.
It’s time to start layering! Spoon enough of the meat sauce to cover your pan.
Then add the butternut squash and if you’re using noodles, add the noodles on top of the squash.
Spread half of the ricotta cheese or tofu mixture and spread as evenly as possible. Top with a third of the mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of parmesan. Then start over with the meat sauce, adding some basil for freshness and flavor.
Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes and let cook 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!!