Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Healthier Lasagna paired with a Small Family Vineyard Pinot Noir and a Book Review #WineDownWednesday

A friend recommended the book Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.  She knows that I love wine and that I love to read.  She had just started the novel and thought of me right away. 

Eight Hundred Grapes

I ordered it up and then I thought it might be a good choice for our new Wine-Down Wednesday group and offered to host for this month.......
This casual book club features books that have wine or wineries as central to the theme.  Here is how our administrator Cam of Culinary Cam describes it.

For lovers of wine and books! We decided to start a casual monthly, online book group to read books that inspire us to drink and pair wines. The host will choose a book and a Wednesday to discuss however he/she wants. Read the book and join the conversation. Posting a recipe or wine pairing is totally optional.

Thus far we have read The Essential Guide to Turkish Wines written by one of our members, Andrea LeMieux.   

This was followed by a trilogy written by Camilla Trinchieri called A Tuscan Mystery.  When I searched for A Tuscan Mystery I didn't pay any attention and ordered the first book that came up on my Kindle account.  

It wasn't until I made a Bistecca Alla Fiorintina after reading Murder in Tuscany and  Spring Vegetable Soup  for Murder in Chianti and went to share my review that I realized that I was reading a series by T.A. Williams, not the books assigned.  I did enjoy those novels though and look forward to reading the third in his series.

Then I read the assigned novels and was inspired to make Ribollita for A Murder in Chianti.  I then read the remaining two novels and was inspired to make an Apple, Walnut and Mushroom Salad and a Zucchini Lasagna.

After reading this novel, Eight Hundred Grapes, that follows the story of a young woman who was raised on a small, family owned winery in Sonoma California I was again inspired to make a Lasagna to share with my readers.

lasagna and wine

Georgia Ford is at her bridal dress fitting when she sees her fiancee walking down the street with a famous movie star and a little girl.  Georgia learns that the man she thought she knew and trusted had a child that he had never told her about.  Georgia leaves her big job in the city and drives from LA to Sonoma in the Wedding Dress she had been wearing when she ran out of the store.  

Georgia flees to her family home hoping to find comfort, solace and answers only to find out that her brothers are at odds with each other, her parents are getting divorced and her father has sold the winery.

This novel read like a soap opera but, like a soap opera, had you keep coming back to see what was going to happen next.  


At one point in the novel all three kids are sitting at the kitchen counter, eating a cold lasagna they had found in the refrigerator and talking about how their lives have not turned out as they expected.  This was my inspiration for the recipe I am sharing with you today.

This Lasagna is lightened up a little bit from my other versions of Lasagna.  I used Turkey Italian Sausage and much less than meat than normal, using a lot of mushrooms in the sauce to mimic the meat I would normally use.  I added some extra veggies into the sauce as well, using 3 different types of tomatoes, crushed, diced and dried.  I also used fresh cheese which allowed me to use a little less than I normally would.


While I didn't open a bottle of Sonoma wine for this meal, I did find a lovely Pinot Noir from LaMontagne, a small, family run vineyard near Santa Barbara.  This wine appealed to me because, much like the Ford's of the novel, it was a small family owned winery that produced a small number of artisinal wines.  Unfortunately, also like the winery in the novel, it was unable to compete with the large label wineries and is now permanently closed.


The Montagne's also labled their wines by clones as the Ford's did in the novel.  This bottle was absolutely lovely and I am saddened that the winery no longer exists.

Lasagna, turkey sausage, lightened up, healthier, mushrooms, pasta
Entrees, Pasta
Yield: 12 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Healthier Lasagna

Healthier Lasagna

Using a small amount of turkey Italian Sausage and lots of mushrooms this lasagna tastes as rich and delicious as a full meat version.
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 2 HourTotal time: 2 H & 15 M


  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 link (4 oz) Turkey Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 Vidalia onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 carrot, scraped and quartered
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, halved
  • 4 oz enoki mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c dry red wine
  • 1 (28 oz) canned, diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (28 oz) canned, pureed tomatoes
  • 1 T. Italian Herb Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. sliced, sun dried tomatoes (dry packed)
  • 12 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles, cooked al dente.
  • 2 c. fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 c. fresh mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c. slivered parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Cook the turkey, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned and crumbly.
  2. Place the onion and carrots into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the turkey, season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to combine.
  3. Place the mushrooms into the same bowl of the food processor and pulse two or three times, until roughly chopped. Add to the pot with the vegetables along with the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until all juices have released and evaporated.
  4. Pour in the wine and cook, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add both cans of tomatoes, the Italian herbs, crushed red pepper and slivered sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour.
  5. Uncover, taste and adjust seasonings, if needed and simmer for another 30-60 minutes, until thickened to desired consistency.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a large pot of salted water for about 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  7. Combine the Ricotta with salt, pepper and nutmeg until creamy. Set aside.
  8. Place about 1/2 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan that has been treated with olive oil spray. Lay 3 noodles over the sauce and then add 1/4 of the remaining sauce onto the noodles. Dollop with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the sauce and cheese sequence two more times. After the 4th layer of noodles cover with the remaining sauce, mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  9. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 45-60 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Remove foil after 40 minutes to allow top to brown a bit.


Adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

9.3 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

5.28 g

Carbs (grams)

32.06 g

Fiber (grams)

2.4 g

Net carbs

29.63 g

Sugar (grams)

5.12 g

Protein (grams)

14.06 g

Sodium (milligrams)

218.56 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

30.21 mg


  1. While I haven't managed to get a Wine Wednesday post and pairing up, I have been reading the books and enjoying them. I will have to pick up the other that you read accidentally also!
    I live that you made lasagna with this. It seems so appropriate to the story!


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