28 October 2012

Broken Lasagna Stacks with Red Pepper & Goat Cheese

The name to this recipe is quite a mouthful.  But be thankful that it's a short as it is.  This recipe was quite the quandary to name.  With all the good stuff going into this dish, you don't want to leave anybody out.  But at the same time, to just call this a lasagna would be deceptive to all individuals reading this blog.  A compromise had to be made between the architectural and flavor aspects of this dish.  Just note that the original name was Broken Turkey & Goat Cheese Lasagna Stacks with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

Phew.  My pinky has a cramp just from typing that.

As the complete and proper name details, there are a lot of delicious flavors happening in this dish.  One of which is the delicious Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.  I originally came across this sauce recipe in a fabulous posting at Lauren's Latest.  Any alfredo sauce that combines two of my favorite things - roasted red peppers and goat cheese - just had to be tried.  And oh my stars, what a sauce!  The recipe makes oodles of sauce, but freezes perfectly.  I will slather this on everything from bread to grilled vegetables.  Originally, I'd planned the recipe to be served without a sauce, but after finding a container stashed in the far forgotten corner of my freezer, I decided to add it.  And how lovely it was.  But if you feel like going a bit more low key, a simple drizzle of homemade marinara or olive oil is delicious as well.  

And speaking of the filling, let's move on to discuss.  The biggest departure from the traditional lasagna is the cheese.  No ricotta, no mozzarella.  Rather, we have creamy and pungent goat cheese as our binder and big flavor contributor.  This makes for a completely different dish from your traditional baked lasagna.  Rather than the gooey, sloppy deliciousness of cheese and sauce, you have a firm, tight little stack of noodles and filling.  (Think of it as the leaner, meaner lasagna.)  But what you lack in gooeyness, you gain in flavor.  Tangy, velvety goat cheese provides a lovely texture and fabulous flavor as a part of the filling.  When mixed with ground turkey, garlic and basil, you have a wonderfully spreadable and protein-packed filing that is delicious and creamy.  When layered with blanched kale and juicy roasted red pepper, you have a really fabulous combination.  It is wonderfully textural.

Oh buddy.  Just look and love.

The huge advantage of broken lasagna stacks in our two-person household is the size.  You can make 2-4 stacks here, just enough for dinner one night and leftovers the following day.  The way we like to serve is by assembling the stacks ourselves at the table.  It's a fun little addition to the typical sit-and-eat dinner regimen.  It also allows each eater to tailor their stacks to their personal preference (mine obviously being kale-heavy, his sauce-rich).  

Broken Lasagna Stacks with Red Pepper & Goat Cheese

  • 7 oz ground turkey 
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried chives
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (use 1/2 if you like more heat)
  • 2/3 c goat cheese
  • 4 whole wheat lasagna noodles (store bought or homemade)
  • 2 c kale, roughly torn
  • 1/2 c roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 c Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo or 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (yogi's choice)
  • 2 tbs grated parmesan, to garnish
Place a large pot of water over high heat and a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  While the pan and water are heating, combine the ground turkey, garlic, basil, chives, salt, pepper and chili flakes in a medium bowl.  Mix together with your hands until well combined.  

Place 1 teaspoon of oil in the heated pan and add the turkey mixture.  Flatten with a spatula and break into several large pieces.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip pieces and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Break the turkey into smaller, bite size pieces and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.  Remove to a medium bowl.  Add the goat cheese and mix together well.  Cover to keep warm.

While the meat is cooking, your water should come to a boil. When it does, add the lasagna noodles and cook according to directions.  Do NOT DRAIN the water!  Remove the noodles from the boiling water with a pair of tongs into a colander to drain and add the kale leaves to the boiling pasta water and let cook for a minute and a half.  When the kale is done, pour water and all into the colander with the noodles.  Remove the noodles and cut into thirds.

To assemble, drizzle a tiny bit of Red Pepper Alfredo or olive oil onto the bottom of the plate.  Lay a lasagna square down and top with a few kale leaves.  Spread some of the turkey filling on top of the kale, about 2 tablespoons worth, and top with a sprinkling of red peppers.  That's one layer.  Repeat until you have 4-5 layers, or until you reach desired height.  Garnish with an additional drizzle of Red Pepper Alfredo or olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo
Very minorly modified from Lauren's Latest
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 c fat free half & half 
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2/3 c grated parmesan (fresh is best)
  • salt & pepper, to taste (we used red chili flakes, too)

Turn your broiler onto high and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the peppers on their side on the foil.  When hot, place the peppers directly under the broiler.  Roast for 5-7 minutes until they begin to get fragrant and the skin is charred.  Rotate the peppers, cooking for 3-4 minutes and allowing to char, until all the skin is completely black.  Remove to a small paper bag and fold the top over (this will help the skins loosen).  Set aside.

Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the oil.  When hot, add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, then add the half and half, goat cheese, basil and oregano.  Reduce the heat to low and cover to keep warm.

Remove the peppers from the paper bag onto a cutting board.  Peel off the charred skins, remove the stems and all seeds.  Roughly chop and add to the skillet along with the grated parmesan.  Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes (if desired).  Blend with an immersion blender until smooth (you can also transfer to a food processor or blender).  Freezes beautifully and is just as good 6 months later.

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