Monday, January 26, 2015

Cooking With Frank: Gluten-Free Turkey Lasagna

One of these recipes.
If you're the type to turn your nose up at people who incorporate gluten free eating into their lifestyle, you can just put it where the sun don't shine.
Also, the recipe is damn good, so don't knock it 'till you try it.

"Gluten Free?! BUT WHY?!", you scream, "GLUTEN IS DELICIOUS!"
First, stop acting like you even know what gluten is.
Second, you're right, it is delicious. But it's also terrible, specifically for people whose bodies do them a disservice by not being able to process it. For many, eating even a bite of bread, a mouthful of pasta, is like playing Russian Roulette, except nobody dies when the shit hits the fan...
And that analogy is closer to reality than you might want to think about right now, sadly. Seriously. Don't think about it.

For a growing amount of people, gluten is a digestive issue, often serious.
For some, it's a deadly one. Specifically, celiac disease, which can actually kill people. It has many side effects, none of them pleasant.

This is a growing plethora of scientific studies regarding the "first world problem" of not being able to digest wheat (and barely and rye), mainly its little protein friend gluten.
The reasons are complex. Many might scream "GMO" right at the tip of the hat. You may be surprised this is not our stance on this issue, despite past writings regarding GMO in general.
This is because wheat is not a GMO crop...yet - but there are reports of a small testing field in North Dakota. In the past the rejection from foreign countries of potential GMO USA wheat, wheat being a big export crop, prompted the USA GMO companies from chemically messing with the genetic structure of said plant (except for that test crop and its undisclosed specific location).
However, having said that, recent research has linked this growing problem to pesticides, primarily Monsanto’s Glyphosate (Roundup).
Chemical pesticides are a very first world product, which is why it is a first world problem, the use dating back to about the 1970's. The use alters the genetic makeup of the plant, it is said.
So, sure, in the end it is the fault of GMO...naturally unnatural GMO.

As an aside, in rare support of GMO, in case you didn't know, "Mother Nature" takes part in the GMO game. "She" does it naturally, over time, as part of natural selection - which is how there naturally got to be so many different types of plants and animals. That's the cool kind of GMO, the time-tested healthy kind, in most cases.
It can also be done without chemicals, or the splicing of genes from an animal species to a plant species. Basically boil it down and blame the (natural) human intervention on Mendel.

Meanwhile, this post is not intended to be the place to decry, or support, this theory, or any others. The purpose of this intro, the before the recipe, is to spread a little awareness, and also provide a reason for this recipe, if only because about 5% of people in Europe and North America suffer from the digestive disorder. A sort of defense for the 5%, if you will.


On to the recipe!

Gluten-Free Turkey Lasagna
You'll need roughly an 8x12 cake pan, a blender (immersion or upright), a saucepan, a skillet or frypan, a knife, a cutting board, a wooden spoon, tin foil...oh, and an oven.

The Meat:
360 g turkey, ground (93/7 fat content works great)
85 g onion, yellow, diced small (1/2 a small)
1 clove garlic
1.5 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp sage, fresh, (how to cut: chiffonade)

In a pan over medium heat add olive oil. Wait until the olive oil is warmed and then add onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and then add the ground turkey, continue to cook, seasoning as you go. Towards the end add the sage. Set aside.


The Sauce:
100 g onion, red, diced small (1/2 a medium)
150 g bell pepper, orange, diced small (1 medium)
150 g carrots, diced small (it's about 1 cup or so)
1 quart tomatoes, whole, canned
1 clove garlic, crushed
1.5 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp (or a splash) of white wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

330 g mushrooms, fresh, sliced (about 12-15 medium)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c sherry wine

Sauté the onions and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for a few minutes, just about to the point of becoming translucent. Add carrots and continue to cook for about 4-5 more minutes. Add orange pepper and white wine vinegar and continue to cook for about 4 more minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until the ingredients are very soft. Season.
Nutrition Information generated using
myFitnesspal recipe calculator
Remove pan from stove and with an immersion blender or upright blender blend the sauce until smooth. Return to stove-top and add the ground turkey mixture and simmer over medium-love heat.
!! Now would be a great time to preheat the over to 350 °F. !!
In another pan, add the 1 tbsp of olive oil, wait until it's warm and then add mushroom. Continue to cook mushrooms until they being to soften and become darker. Splash in about a quarter cup of sherry wine and allow the alcohol to cook off. Taste a mushroom to see if it requires a little salt. Add the mushrooms with remaining liquid to the saucepan with the turkey and tomato sauce.

The Cheese
500 ml mozzarella (2 cups)
1 egg
250 ml cottage cheese, 2% (1 cup)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

The Pasta
6-8 sheets (depending on depth and size of pan) of DeBoles Rice Lasagna (or preferred brand)

In the bottom of the pan place about 1 cup of the sauce. Over the top of the sauce place three sheets of pasta. On top of that place a little over 1 cup more of the sauce. On top of that the cheese mixture, followed by three more sheets of pasta. Then, you guessed it, about 1 more cup of sauce and the remaining cheese mixture.
Cover with tin foil and bake for an 55 minutes to an hour. Remove foil and continue to cook for about 6-8 minutes. Turn oven off and let the lasagna rest with the over door propped open, or just take it out and let it cool on the stove. (Propping the oven open had the added benefit of adding some heat to a cold kitchen, if you have that type of house and kitchen).

Now you can eat and enjoy your gluten free lasagna!

[If you need clarification or guidance on this recipe, you can just ask here in the comments section, or ask here: @justcallmefrank]

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