This past Sunday I spent the afternoon with Stu’s family in Bensalem. I usually try to get over there a few times a month so that I can visit with the fam, get some laundry done, and most importantly, stuff my face. Stu’s mother is a wonderful cook and from the moment we walk in the door, we are treated like royalty, with a variety of wonderful spreads waiting for us to gobble up.

This weekend we were greated by omlettes, followed by a wonderful lasagna with a recipe from The Barefoot Contessa.  It was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. I am a huge lasagna fan but have never tried it. I looked up the recipe on Food Network and I’m going to dare to give it a try. Maybe this weekend for Easter.

Turkey Lasagna
from The Barefoot Contessa

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one 1/3 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

This dish was so delicious mostly because it was made with all fresh ingredients. You could taste every flavor, especially the fresh goat cheese, which gave the whole meal an extra tang.

For dessert, Stu’s mom followed up with a delicious Peach Tart from Paula Deen.  I can’t wait for summer to make fresh fruit desserts all the time!

And speaking of The Barefoot Contessa, in my Easter basket from Stu’s mom, I got one of her cookbooks- which I’ve been wanting to get for a while! It’s The Barefoot Contessa At Home, and it as a lot of wonderful, simple meals that are easy to make again and again. It has recipes for bread, chicken stock, a lot of wonderful dinners, and a ton of desserts that are easy to make. I can’t wait to dive into it and put the recipes to use. Especially now that the summer is coming, there are a ton of great seasonal recipes.

Ina Garten, one of my faves!

A huge thanks to Stu’s mom for feeding me well, and hooking me up with a great cookbook so I can stuff myself silly for more dinners (and desserts) to come!