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Lasagna has to be one of the best things to eat, ever. It is tasty, comforting, filling, satisfying… I could go on and on. Unfortunately, lasagna isn’t always the healthiest thing to eat. Here, I created a healthier version of the classic Italian recipe we all know and love. Get ready to be blown away!

Let’s get real for a minute. I’ve had some really really bad lasagna in my day. I truly dislike lasagna that calls for bland, clumpy ricotta cheese. I just don’t understand how you can take something so delicious with the pasta, spaghetti sauce, fresh herbs, and then dump tasteless ricotta cheese into it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dogging ricotta cheese and the real deal, homemade ricotta is the bomb.com, but I’ve just never been a huge fan of it in my lasagna. I think making a traditional Béchamel sauce and then adding cheese which then turns it into a Mornay sauce is the best way to go. It’s basically a creamy, silky cheese sauce layered in between the pasta and spaghetti sauce. Freaking delicious.

I have been making the same lasagna recipe for a long time which consists of a homemade spaghetti sauce and homemade cheese sauce. However, in this recipe, I kept things pretty basic by nixing the spaghetti sauce and simply making a filling out of the italian turkey sausage, mushrooms, and spinach which is then mixed with the cheese sauce. It is light, creamy, cheesy and super duper tasty. You’re probably wondering how in the world can this be a healthier version of lasagna with sausage, cheese, noodles, etc. Well, first of all I substituted Italian turkey sausage for Italian pork sausage and made my cheese sauce with low fat milk, whole wheat flour, and part skim mozzarella cheese. You won’t feel bad having seconds.

For this recipe you will need:

1 pack multigrain lasagna noodles
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 links Italian turkey sausage
1 pound mushrooms, cremini, button, and/or shiitake
10 ounce baby spinach
1 shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups low fat milk, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil, chiffonade
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Next, remove the turkey sausage from the casing and cook in a large sauté pan in 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Cook until brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the shallot and mushrooms until the mushrooms are cooked down and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Return the turkey sausage to the pan, add the chopped oregano, and mix everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the béchamel:

In a medium sauce pot over medium low heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Then, add the flour and whisk until light brown in color, about 3-5 minutes. This is called a roux. Then, slowly pour the milk into the sauce pot and continue to stir until the roux has dissolved into the milk. Cook over low heat until the milk thickens and it is nappé- the consistency that will coat the back of a spoon. Season the béchamel with a pinch (1/8th tsp) of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the mozzarella cheese to the sauce and allow to melt. Now your béchamel has transformed into a delicious, cheesy mornay sauce. Pour the cheese sauce into the pan with the turkey sausage, mushrooms, and spinach and mix until everything is evenly coated with the sauce. *You may not have to use all of the cheese sauce.* This depends on your preference.

Assembling the lasagna:

In a 9″ by 13″ baking dish, pour a small amount of the cheese sauce on the bottom and top with 4 lasagna noodles. Spread an even layer of the turkey sausage/mushroom/spinach mix onto the noodles and repeat with a second layer of noodles and sauce. You will have about 4 layers total. Sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 35-45 minutes. Remove the foil and turn on the broiler. Broil for 2-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly. *Don’t take your eyes off of the lasagna while it is under the broiler or it will burn in a matter of seconds!*

Remove from the oven and allow the lasagna to cool. Garnish with fresh basil and Italian flat-leaf parsley. Voila! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you would rather a vegetarian version, simply omit the Italian turkey sausage. Bon Appetit!

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