When you want comfort food with a twist of elegance, you turn to the Barefoot Contessa.
And Ina Garten’s lasagna is a classic you’ll make again and again.
Ina Garten is the unofficial Queen of the Hamptons. She exudes style and grace, and her cooking does too!
And let me tell ya, this turkey lasagna fits the theme.
It’s cheesy, meaty, and mouthwateringly delicious.
Seriously, Ina Garten’s lasagna is rich, flavorful, and absolutely soul-soothing. You’re gonna love it.
Ina Garten’s Turkey Lasagna Recipe
I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly makes this lasagna so special. Especially when there are so many lasagna recipes out there.
Well, there are five reasons, to be exact.
Firstly, this recipe uses Italian turkey sausage instead of beef or pork. It’s bursting with flavor, but it’s much lighter and leaner (aka healthy!).
That means you won’t feel overwhelmingly heavy if you “accidentally” eat three slices.
The other four reasons can be summed up quickly: ricotta, goat cheese, Parmesan, and mozzarella.
Yep, you read that right. This luscious lasagna is loaded with FOUR kinds of cheese.
Each one has a distinct flavor that works well with the others.
In combination with the tomatoes, noodles, and seasonings, every bite is perfectly balanced.
Barefoot Contessa’s Lasagna Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make Ina’s lasagna:
- Olive Oil – To sauté the veggies for the sauce. I like extra virgin olive oil, but you could use avocado or any neutral oil if that’s what you have on hand.
- Alliums – Specifically, yellow onions and garlic. Every savory recipe needs its alliums for flavor and nutrition. And fresh is always best!
- Italian Turkey Sausage – It’s got big flavor, with little grease. Use mild sausage or spicy, depending on your tastes.
- Tomatoes – You’ll use both crushed tomatoes and tomato paste for maximum flavor.
- Herbs and Seasonings – You’ll need fresh parsley and fresh basil for this recipe. Plus, salt and pepper, of course.
- Lasagna Noodles – Use your favorite brand and go for white, whole wheat, gluten-free, or even chickpea noodles for extra protein if you like.
- Cheese – Lasagna without cheese is blasphemy. And this recipe calls for goat cheese, ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella.
- Substitute the goat cheese for extra ricotta if you don’t like the tang.
- Throw in some blue cheese if you like it really pungent.
- If you can’t find ricotta, cottage cheese is a fantastic substitute.
- Egg – The egg acts as a binding agent to keep the cheese filling together. It also adds protein and a bit of rich flavor.
How To Make Ina Garten’s Turkey Lasagna
If you’ve ever made lasagna before, this should be a breeze. That said, it’s a breeze anyway.
1. Prep the baking dish and preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205°C) and lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
(You can also use two 8×8-inch pans or cut the recipe in half and use one 8×8-inch pan.)
2. Gather all the ingredients and weigh/measure everything.
Chop the onions and the garlic, slice the mozzarella, and, if the turkey sausage comes in casings, remove those as well.
The reason you want everything ready and measured (the mise en place) is so you know you have everything.
The last thing you want is to get halfway through cooking and realize you don’t have (or have enough of) a key ingredient!
3. Make the meat sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the chopped onions and cook them until they’re translucent.
Add the garlic and cook it until it’s fragrant (about two minutes).
Crumble the Italian sausage into the pan and brown it for about 10 minutes. When it’s no longer pink, stir in the tomato paste and the crushed tomatoes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Then sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of parsley and all of the basil.
Let the sauce simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Soak the noodles, but don’t cook them.
Add hot water to a large bowl and soak the lasagna noodles for 20 minutes. Stir them up occasionally so they don’t stick together.
After 20 minutes, drain them, and set them aside.
5. Make the cheese filling.
Mix the ricotta, goat cheese, and 1 cup of Parmesan in a separate bowl until mostly smooth and blended.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl, then mix it into the cheese with the rest of the parsley.
Season with the rest of the salt and pepper and stir until a thick mixture forms. Set it aside.
6. Assemble the lasagna.
Ladle approximately one-third of the meat sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Spread it evenly over the so you don’t see any of the glass.
Next, layer half of the lasagna noodles over the sauce. Follow that with half of the mozzarella cheese slices and then half of the ricotta mixture.
Spread another third of the meat sauce over the ricotta. And then do it all over again.
You’ll end with the final third of the sauce on top.
Take the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and sprinkle it over the meat sauce. Now, it’s ready to bake.
7. Bake the lasagna, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
It’s ready when the cheese is ooey-gooey, the sauce is bubbly, and the top is brown.
Your kitchen should smell utterly fantastic, too!
Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve the lasagna warm.
How to Prepare Lasagna Ahead of Time
Ina Garten’s lasagna is a fantastic dish to prepare ahead of time. And there are a few ways you can do it.
1. Prepare the whole dish a day or two before you need it.
Prepare the lasagna as instructed, but don’t bake it. Instead, wrap the dish in plastic and foil and store it in the fridge.
Then, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
2. Prepare the sauce and cheese mixture, but don’t assemble the lasagna.
Make the sauce as instructed, and measure and mix all the cheeses (not the egg). Then, store everything in airtight containers for up to two days ahead.
Let the ingredients come to room temperature for 30 minutes, then assemble the lasagna and bake.
Prep the noodles while the sauce and cheese warm on the counter.
3. Make and bake the lasagna, then cool and freeze for later.
Make the recipe as instructed, then bake until golden and bubbly.
Leave the entire dish to cool for about an hour, then pop it in the fridge until it’s completely cold.
When it’s cold, wrap the whole dish in plastic and foil. Then put it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat it, either cook from frozen – covered in foil – for about an hour. Then cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
Or thaw overnight and bake as normal.
Tips for the Best Lasagna
Lasagna is a pretty easy dish. But I’ve still got a few tips to make sure your dish is delish!
Let the refrigerated ingredients come to room temp before you use them.
Yes, even your meat. Let me explain…
Cold meat shrinks when you cook it, making it dry and tough. In contrast, room-temperature meat cooks more evenly and stays nice and juicy.
So, leave the turkey sausage on the counter for about 30 minutes (no more than an hour). Any longer, and it’ll spoil.
This is also true of the ricotta, goat cheese, and egg. They’ll mix more evenly if they’re at room temperature.
Use no-boil lasagna noodles instead of traditional noodles.
This will save you the step of soaking them. That way, you can add them directly to the pan.
See the noodle box for any heating/timing adjustments that may need to be made.
How to avoid soupy lasagna
1. Let the meat sauce thicken – it’s built into the steps for a reason. If, after 20 minutes, it’s still runny, let it keep cooking.
It’ll reduce after a while and become nice and thick.
2. Drain the noodles. Again, it’s part of the steps for a reason.
If you don’t drain the noodles properly, you’ll incorporate moisture into the dish.
3. Don’t use pork sausage or beef. These are really greasy and will make your lasagna wetter.
That said, you can cook and drain off the excess moisture if you like. But really, turkey sausage is just as tasty!
Add sugar to the sauce and red wine to the meat.
Mix 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar into the tomato sauce when you add the tomatoes. This helps cut the acidity and add balance.
Also, add a splash of red wine to the meat sauce for an extra-rich flavor.
Make sure the dish is cooked before removing it from the oven.
Insert a toothpick into the center of the lasagna to make sure the noodles are done. If it goes through with no resistance, you’re good to go!
How to Store and Reheat Lasagna Leftovers
Lasagna leftovers are the best! If you have any, that is.
Luckily, they last a while in the fridge, so you can enjoy this fabulous dish the whole rest of the week.
Leave the leftovers in the pan or move them to an airtight container.
If you leave them in the pan, make sure to wrap them well. You don’t want the lasagna to dry out.
Either way, store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat, cut individual slices and warm them in the microwave.
Or you can reheat the entire pan in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s warm and bubbly.
You will want to cover it with foil this time, as it will heat faster and may burn on top if you don’t.
How to Freeze Lasagna
We covered this a little in the section above, but let’s dive in a little deeper. After all, meal-prepping a lasagna will make next week so much easier!
It will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
How to Freeze Baked Lasagna
You can freeze baked lasagna two ways. And in both situations, the lasagna (and the pan) need to come to room temperature before freezing.
Freeze the lasagna in small servings or individual slices. Add each serving to an airtight, freezer-safe container. Then, freeze.
Reheat the servings in the microwave.
Second, you can freeze the entire pan of baked lasagna. Double-wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap and foil. Then freeze it until solid.
When you’re ready to reheat, let the lasagna thaw in the fridge overnight.
Bake it in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven (lower temp) until heated through. This will take 30-45 minutes.
How to Freeze Unbaked lasagna
You can freeze the lasagna before baking it too.
Simply follow the directions to prepare the lasagna. Though I recommend waiting to assemble the lasagna until the meat sauce has cooled.
Make sure the lasagna dish is both freezer and oven-safe. Then wrap the dish in plastic wrap, followed by foil.
If your baking dish has a cover, use that, too. We don’t want any freezer burn!
When it’s lasagna time, you can cook it via two methods.
- Take it out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Then, bake per the directions.
- Put the lasagna in the oven directly from frozen, and cook it (covered) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes.
More Ina Garten Recipes You’ll Love
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