Recipe of the Week: White Lasagna with Chicken and Vegetable
Looking for a great dinner for the family? Lasagna is the perfect solution for a make-ahead meal. It can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated. I have discovered that the taste and consistency actually improved when the flavors have had a chance to blend together for a bit. Another advantage is that lasagna can be easily doubled, so one pan can be enjoyed while the other can be frozen to enjoy at a later date with minimum extra work or additional clean up. This lasagna recipe is a delicious twist of the traditional classic using bechamel sauce instead of ricotta and fontina cheese instead of mozzarella; together, with lots of vegetables, it makes a lighter version perfect for today’s lifestyle. I like to serve it with a crunchy green salad dressed in a light balsamic vinaigrette and crusty Italian bread. Serves eight (Chef’s tip: To cook the boneless and skinless chicken breast, place in foil, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.)
1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked and patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for brushing pan)
1 pound chicken, cooked and diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup carrot, peeled and diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen artichoke heart, diced
3 cups fresh baby spinach, destemmed and chopped
1 cup red bell peppers, core and diced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
4 ounces fontina cheese, diced
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and white pepper, to taste
In a large saute pan heat oil and cook onion and carrot until just tender. Add garlic, artichoke hearts, spinach and bell pepper and cook until spinach has wilted. Season, to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, add cooked and diced chicken. Set aside.
To make bechamel sauce, melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add flour and whisk to form a roux, there shouldn’t be any lumps. Bring roux to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, but do not brown. While whisking constantly, slowly add milk. Bring bchamel to a full boil before removing from the heat. Sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Once off the heat, stir in parmesan cheese, nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Separate out about two cups of bechamel sauce. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Combine the rest of the sauce with the cooked vegetables, chicken, and fresh parsley and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or pepper if needed.
To build lasagna brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Use about 1/2 a cup of reserved bechamel sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. Arrange three to four of the lasagna noodles in a single layer over the bechamel sauce. Place 1/3 of the vegetable mixture on top of the lasagna noodles. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles and another third of the vegetable mixture. Repeat one more time. Top final vegetable layer with another layer of noodles and then finish with remaining, reserved bechamel sauce. Top lasagna with fontina cheese and bake until golden brown on top and bubbling hot, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.