When I was growing up, my ever-frugal parents would stock up on turkey whenever it went on sale, filling up the chest freezer in the basement with a bevy of Butterballs. It wasn’t unusual to come home to the smell of a roasting turkey on a weekday, not because it was a special occasion, but just because it was a cheap way of feeding a family of five.
As you can imagine, this made my mother the undisputed queen of turkey leftovers. I mean, she devoted an entire folder in her recipe files specifically for dishes that could be made with cooked leftover turkey – besides the obligatory turkey sandwiches, we’d be treated to turkey a la king, turkey in curry sauce, turkey mulligatawny, turkey enchiladas… and on and on it goes.
Unfortunately, with only two of us in the house, it’s pretty rare for me and The Boy to cook a turkey. Since it wasn’t a special occasion dish when I was growing up, I rarely even make a turkey for holidays… something like goose or duck just seems more impressive, somehow.
I did, however, make a turkey the weekend before Thanksgiving, just because we were craving a roast chicken and the turkeys turned out to be cheaper. Naturally, I ended up with a huge amount of leftover turkey meat, and I summoned up every ounce of my genetic turkey-leftover-using-up skills… which turned out to be nonexistent.
Thank goodness for Twitter, where the lovely @danasaur82 suggested I turn my leftovers into lasagna. Genius!
This easy turkey lasagna turns out to be the perfect solution. It’s creamy and cheesy, with a deliciously earthy filling of cooked turkey, spinach, leeks and mushrooms. Add a glass of crisp white wine and a simple green salad, and no one will suspect you’re foisting leftovers on them.
- 1 lb dried lasagna noodles
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2½ cups milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white parts only
- 2 cups thickly sliced cremini mushrooms
- 3 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups diced cooked turkey
- 1 450g container ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp herbes de provence
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles as per package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Using a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Immediately whisk in milk, and cook until thickened, stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a wide skillet set over medium-high heat, sweat the leeks in olive oil until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has cooked out of the mushrooms, about 7-10 minutes. Add spinach and white wine, and cook until spinach is wilted and most of the liquid has cooked off, about 10 minutes more. Stir in the cooked turkey, and set aside.
- Lastly, prepare the ricotta layer by whisking together all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy.
- Spoon a thin layer of bechamel sauce onto the bottom of an 9x13" baking dish. Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles, followed by half of the ricotta mixture. Add another layer of lasagna noodles, and top this one with the turkey-mushroom mixture. Top with a third layer of lasagna noodles, and then the last of the ricotta. Top with one last layer of noodles. Pour the remaining bechamel sauce overtop, then sprinkle with an even layer of mozzarella.
- Bake the lasagna in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then serve piping hot with a green salad and crusty bread.