Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
For several weeks now, I’ve been flipping through the pages of Valerie Brunmeir’s cookbook, “The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and Other One-Pot Solutions,” deciding which recipes I want to try.
It hasn’t been an easy decision. Even the photos on the cover have made my mouth water.
Brunmeir is the founder of Valerie’s Kitchen. At her website, fromvalerieskitchen.com, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly recipes from the wife and mother of four grown sons.
The cookbook has a collection of more than 50 slow cooker recipes and more than 20 one-pot dishes.
I debated making Brunmeir’s creamy “baked” ziti, chicken cacciatore or barbecue chicken drumsticks in my slow cooker. Her braised chicken thighs with spring vegetables and 30-minute minestrone also looked good. But the recipe I decided to try is the one that first caught my eye on the cover page: turkey-vegetable skillet lasagna.
I was not only attracted to the beautiful photo of the lasagna, but I was also intrigued by the idea of making the lasagna on the stovetop — in a sauté pan. If you read my column often, you know I love to experiment.
The other reason I chose this recipe? I really love lasagna and wanted to give this version a try.
I made this lasagna after work one day last week.
While the ground turkey browned in the skillet, I started cutting the carrots and onions and added them to the ground turkey. Then I started dicing the zucchini and mushrooms. After adding in those veggies, I started breaking up lasagna noodles and opening the jar of marinara sauce and can of petite diced tomatoes.
I kept the book open on my workspace so I could carefully follow the instructions.
In the 25 minutes while the covered lasagna cooked, I measured out the cheeses and then made green salads to go with our meal.
When my husband Reggie got home, he brought in several basil leaves from outside to finish off this dish.
I was so excited to try this recipe. The familiar aroma from the skillet made me so hungry.
I let the lasagna cool for a few minutes before cutting slices. I didn’t cut neat squares like the ones with my oven-baked lasagna, but that wasn’t a problem. In fact, there were no problems with this delicious lasagna. Reggie and I both devoured our serving and went back for a little more. We both liked the additional vegetables in the lasagna, and we both noticed that the lasagna was lighter than traditional lasagnas. We attributed that to the turkey rather than ground beef; the recipe also has less cheese than my usual recipe and no egg.
Neither one of us felt stuffed after eating.
We loved this recipe that night and devoured the leftovers at lunches later in the week.
THINGS I LEARNED FROM THIS RECIPE
• Next time I make this recipe, I will do the veggie prep work before I start browning the turkey. I felt very rushed and worried the turkey would burn before I got the carrots, mushrooms and onion cut. Lesson learned.
• If you break dry lasagna noodles into pieces, you’re going to make a big mess. I placed the noodles on a plate and snapped them into three or four pieces. Little pieces kept breaking off and flying across the room. This task would be a good job for a young kitchen helper. I ended up not using all of the noodles I broke.
• There was a little bit of marinara sauce left in the jar after I emptied it. I added a few tablespoons of water to the jar and swirled it around to loosen the sauce, then poured the liquid into the pan. I didn’t want to waste any marinara sauce.
• I worried a little bit that the lasagna noodles wouldn’t be cooked throughly, but they were very tender. Before I added the cheese layer, I used a fork to pull out a noodle and test it. Perfect!
• I was also concerned that zucchini and carrot would taste weird in a lasagna. No need to worry. Every element of this recipe is just right.
“The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and Other One-Pot Solutions” is definitely a cookbook I can recommend. The book, from Page Street Publishing, has a list price of $21.99.
Lisa Boykin Batts has been writing a weekly food column since 2001. Her column includes recipes she and her family enjoy.
Turkey-Vegetable Skillet Lasagna
2 tablespoons olive oil (I omitted this)
1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I used oregano)
8 curly edged lasagna noodles each broken into 3 to 4 pieces (not the no-boil variety)
1/2 cup water
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 25-ounce jar marinara sauce
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Heat the olive oil in a deep 12- to 14-inch sauté pan with a lid over medium heat. (I skipped this step and browned the meat without oil.) When the oil is hot, add the ground turkey, carrot and onion and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, breaking up the ground turkey with a spoon, until no pink remains. Drain off as much of the grease as you can, and return the skillet to the stove. Season the meat with the salt and pepper. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, garlic and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Place the uncooked broken lasagna noodles over the turkey and vegetables mixture to cover it completely. Pour the water, tomatoes and marinara sauce evenly over the pasta, using the back of a spoon to smooth it out, making sure that the edges of the pasta are covered with sauce. Bring the mixture to a good simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove the cover and drop small dollops of the ricotta over the surface of the lasagna and sprinkle on the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cover the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until the ricotta is warmed and the mozzarella has melted. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.
“The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and Other One-Pot Solutions”