Turkey Lasagna St. Louis Style
I’ve taken my family’s lasagna recipe and substituted ground turkey in place of beef. The St. Louis style cheese Provel is paired with mozzarella and Parmesan for a cheesy, hearty classic Italian dish.
Obviously from my posts, I like a variety of different types of food – Mexican, Asian, American, and of course Italian. My grandmother was 100% Sicilian, and I have always identified strongly with my Italian heritage. Surprisingly, she didn’t cook much Italian food, but her influence on our family has inspired many recipes.
My aunt originally developed this lasagna years and years ago, and my mom then took it on – whether she tweaked anything, I’m not quite sure, but I do know that I put a major wrench in it by substituting ground turkey for the beef! To be honest, most of the people who have tried this recipe don’t even realize it’s turkey. The only thing that tips them off is this: I’m eating it! Most recently I REALLY threw my family off by using gluten free rice lasagna noodles. I’m happy to report the result was outstanding!
My aunt and my mom make a homemade sauce for their lasagna, which I’ve made and really enjoy, but for me, as I’ve mentioned before, Prego Traditional is so good that it’s not worth my time to make the homemade sauce. My new favorite sauce is Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara. I only go to Trader Joe’s about 4 times a year, so I make sure to stock up on this sauce. I buy so much that a checker once asked me if I was buying it for an Italian restaurant. He actually had a customer who did this before!
The ricotta-type layer uses cottage cheese. I always thought this was a little strange, but it’s delicious so I never complained. Then I saw Cook’s Illustrated substitute cottage cheese for ricotta in some recipes! Guess it’s not that strange!
One unique ingredient in this lasagna is a classic St. Louis cheese – Provel. If you do not live in the area, you probably won’t be able to find this cheese (and may not even like it if you didn’t grow up with it!), so you may substitute mozzarella or Provolone.
This lasagna goes best with my mom’s famous homemade garlic bread!
Gluten Free Option
I love the Jovial brand for gluten free rice pasta and recommend these lasagna noodles. I do not recommend freezing the lasagna if using rice noodles. The noodles came out a little mushy when I did this. When I made the lasagna fresh, we couldn’t tell a difference between the rice noodles and traditional lasagna noodles. I have purchased these oven ready gluten free lasagna noodles with the hope that they will hold up better to freezing but haven’t tried them yet.
Looking for more Italian recipes?
Check out my favorite classic Italian recipes that are great for a crowd:
Chicken with Dijon Mascarpone Marsala Sauce
Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers & Onions
Baked Ricotta Cavatelli in a Mascarpone Cheese Sauce
- food processor
- 9×13-inch baking dish or pan
For the sauce:
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 – 2 pounds lean or extra lean ground turkey (or ground beef)
- 40 ounces homemade or store bought marinara sauce (less if you prefer a more cheesy vs. saucy lasagna)
For the lasagna:
- 12 lasagna noodles (9 if using a shallow dish)
- 24 ounces small curd cottage cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- chopped parsley (fresh or dried)
- Parmesan cheese
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups shredded Provel cheese (or mozzarella or Provolone)
- Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat. Brown the turkey, stirring frequently. If using ground beef, omit olive oil.
- Drain the meat if necessary. With ground turkey there usually is not much liquid left to drain, and the small amount that is there may lend flavor to the sauce.
- Add the homemade or prepared sauce of your choice to the meat and simmer for at least 30 minutes, ideally an hour or more. While ground beef can stand up to a day-long simmer, ground turkey starts to break down if cooked too long, so avoid simmering for more than a few hours.
- Cook the lasagna noodles as directed on the package to al dente (use the lower time of the range provided or even a minute less than the lower limit). When the noodles are done, I like to lay them in a single layer on pieces of waxed paper to cool until I’m ready to assemble the lasagna.
- Place the cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and parsley (to taste) in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- To assemble the lasagna: spread about 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of a 9×13″ pan then beginning layering: 3 noodles, sauce to cover, 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Provel cheese, and a little Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. If your pan is not deep enough for 4 layers, 3 will suffice. For the final layer, I top with lasagna noodles, sauce, and then an extra 1/c cup mozzarella and some Parmesan.
- If the pan is full, place it on a baking sheet lined with foil because it may spill over the sides. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. (To make ahead, assemble but do not bake, then refrigerate or freeze. If you make ahead and refrigerate, then bake for 1 hour. If make ahead and freeze, it may take up to 90 minutes or more. I do not recommend freezing gluten free rice lasagna noodles).
- Remove dish from oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting.