Friday, June 26, 2009

4-Cheese Lasagna

Oh my. I really meant to get this post up a couple of days ago, like I said I would do. But, better late than never, I guess. And I think you just might think this one was worth the wait:

4-Cheese Lasagna

(Although as I was typing, I realized it's actually 5. However, we've gotten so used to calling it 4-Cheese, I think we'll just stick with it. Maybe because I don't really consider cottage cheese a cheese, per se, perhaps that's why my mind has latched onto the number 4. Of course, if you don't consider cottage or ricotta to be in the "cheese" family, you can call it 3-Cheese Lasagna. Or, lasagne, if you prefer it that way). Anyway, moving on...

1.5 lbs. ground turkey (Just a side note, my husband and father-in-law don't like lasagna made with turkey, they usually only eat it made with ground beef. That being said, they both thought this was made with beef when they tasted it. It has so much flavor that it wins over staunch beef lasagna-eaters. Try it, you'll see. On the other hand, I don't like the taste of ground beef. So even if the beef-eaters think it could pass for beef, it tastes like turkey to me. Really, it works on so many levels: 3-cheese, 4-cheese, 5-cheese, beef, turkey, etc. How many one-dish meals can you say that about?)

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 16 oz. can peeled and diced tomatoes, undrained

2 6 oz. cans tomato paste (one regular can of paste and one can that comes with the oregano and basil added to it)

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried sweet basil

1/8 tsp garlic salt

9 lasagna noodles, cooked

1 1/2 cups small-curd cottage cheese

1/2 - 3/4 cup ricotta cheese

8 oz. swiss cheese, shredded

8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded

good handful parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Brown turkey and onion in skillet. Add tomatoes, both cans tomato paste, and spices. Simmer 10 minutes.

Arrange 3 noodles in a 9"x11" pan. Add half the swiss and mozzarella over the noodles. Then add half the cottage and ricotta cheese. Next spread about half of the meat/tomato mixture. Repeat with 3 more noodles, cheeses (Swiss, mozzarella, cottage, ricotta), and meat mixture. Add the last 3 noodles on top and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 or so minutes. This can be assembled the day ahead and refrigerated. Bake a refrigerated lasagna for 45 minutes.

Now I got to making this lasagna so frequently that I prepared some things in advance to speed it along. For instance, I made several batches of the spices (salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic salt) and stored each bundle of spices (good for one pan lasagna per bundle) in old black film canisters. {I know, you are probably wondering who still possesses the old 35 mm film canisters. Well, I do. I thought they were cute little containers and I just knew I'd find a use for them. Obviously, if you are not a pack rat such as myself, you could use those little snack baggies or some small tupperware pieces.}

Occasionally, I also browned the turkey and onions in advance and froze them in ziploc bags. That way, I could just take the turkey/onion combo out of the freezer the night before. On baking day, I would throw the meat and onions in the skillet and add the tomatoes and spices. Cutting out that browning step seems small, but it does save time. I will say that I prefer the taste of the meat and onions cooked the same day as the lasagna is assembled. Something about the texture of the thawed onions was off-putting to me. But hey, experiment and see what you think.

Also, you certainly can make the lasagna using two cans of regular tomato paste if that is what you have on hand. Because the recipe calls for added spices anyway, it doesn't alter the taste a great deal if you skip the part about using 1 can oregano/basil flavored tomato paste. I just happened to substitute one can of regular for one can of oregano/basil by mistake one day. Turns out, we liked it better that way and so that's the way I continue to make it.

I would love to give credit where it's due for this recipe, but I can't remember to whom that would be. I've been making this for about 7 years and my mind can only hold so many bits of information. I will say that I have a hunch it came from Deniece Schofield, author of Confessions of an Organized Homemaker, but don't quote me on that.

Lastly, I apologize for not having a picture of the finished product. It disappeared so quickly after I made it, and before I thought to snap a photo. I am one of those people that won't make something if it doesn't come with a picture. If you are one of those people too, I'm sorry. But, try it anyway. And take of picture of it. And send it to me. Then I'll have a photo to put at the top of this post!


  1. Looks like another must try recipe! Thanks for posting this, I kept checking back to see if it was up:) You know I'm not a big meat eater, but since the Hubby is I mau have to suck it up and try it with ground turkey, but Shhh, don't tell him. My guess is that he won't even know.
    Keep these tasty treats from your kitchen coming!
    Looking forward to seeing you today for some girl time!

  2. oh my goodness, J! I had to read it twice to be certain...did you really say you were going to make this lasagna with meat??!! Will wonders never cease... I do think your Hubby will be a fan (and maybe even you too!). At least I hope so, since I've been talking up this lasagna recipe almost since you've known me!! :) As always, sooo good to talk to you!