In my family, pasta is often a focal point at gatherings and this dish definitely made an appearance more than a few times. We called it Poor Man’s Lasagna, though I’m not really sure where that name came from. I’m guessing it’s because it’s an easy and inexpensive way to mimic the taste of lasagna without all of the work that goes into assembling it. I had a couple of late season eggplants in my fridge that were starting to wilt so I wanted to make eggplant meatballs. Pasta seemed like a natural accompaniment but I wanted to add a little more protein to the meal. I had ground turkey, homemade sauce and fresh pasta. That’s when Poor Man’s Lasagna came to mind! After a quick trip to Russo’s for some fresh mozzarella and Locatelli, my dinner was starting to take shape. (My mom also put ricotta in her version, but I decided to leave that out for a healthier option).
I used homemade sauce and fresh pasta, but you can use jarred sauce (try and make it organic). Throw in whole wheat pasta for more fiber, go light on the cheese, and this meal is actually relatively healthy!
Poor Man’s Lasagna
1/2 pound ziti or rigatoni
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 cup marinara or meat sauce, plus more for topping
Romano or Parmigiano cheese for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and then pasta, cooking until al dente. Meanwhile in a skillet or saute pan, brown ground turkey until cooked through. After draining the pasta, pour it back into the pot and add the turkey, mozzarella and sauce. Mix together and transfer to an oven proof dish. Top with grated Romano or Parmigiano and bake until the cheese is lightly brown, about 20 minutes. Top with additional sauce. Serve hot.