Sunday, April 3, 2011
Creamy Chicken Lasagna (a.k.a. Christmas Lasagna)
I can't even begin to describe how delicious this lasagna is - you'll have to taste it for yourself if you want an accurate assessment. It's good.
I made this for my oldest daughter's birthday dinner. She wasn't sure what she wanted that night, and I'd had my mind on this dish for a while, wanting to try it out. I showed it to her, and she enthusiastically agreed that she wanted me to test it out for her birthday meal. We are all very glad I did. I will also add that the leftovers of this lasagna were just as good, if not better, than the fresh-from-the-oven servings. It also lasted several meals because it's such a rich dish.
And why post this recipe when it's so late after Christmas? Because it's so good, for any time of the year. We didn't make this for Christmas, but with the pretty red, green and white colors this lasagna produces, I'm definitely considering making it during the season. We usually have chili on Christmas Eve with a Thanksgiving-type meal on Christmas day, but this dish is so good I may very well make this our Christmas Eve dinner, or at the very least make it sometime the week before Christmas in the future.
I adapted this recipe from the one here at my dear friend Ginny's blog, Cooking with Chopin, Living with Elmo. You should check her site out - it's filled with yumminess and heartwarming stories.
Projected prep time: 45 minutes; Projected bake time: 30-45 minutes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1 pound cooked chicken, cut in small pieces or shredded (omit if vegetarian or replace with white cannellini beans)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Tinkyada lasagna noodles
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used blend of garfava, brown rice, potato starch, tapioca starch and sorghum flours. Use what you want, just make sure it's a blend that doesn't contain xanthan gum, salt, baking powder or soda)
3 1/2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups shredded or crumbled Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
Handful chopped fresh parsley
1 4-ounce jar of diced pimentos
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese
Grease 9x13 baking dish.
Prepare Tinkyada lasagna noodles according to package directions for the energy-saving method (boil for a couple of minutes and then let them sit) until they are al dente. You want them fairly firm. When they are ready, drain and rinse with cold water, then gently toss them with olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
While the noodles are cooking, start on your chicken filling. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and cook until clear. Add pressed garlic (or minced garlic) and cook a few more minutes, without browning the garlic.
Add chicken, salt and Italian seasoning. Taste to see if more salt is needed. Mix in the spinach and cook for another 4-5 minutes, then set aside.
Now get started on the cream sauce. In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until bubbling. Add flour a little at a time, whisking continuously, until flour is well-incorporated and smooth with the butter.
Add the chicken broth a little at a time, quickly whisking the entire time, until smooth. It may seem to get hard and clump together at first, but if you continue to whisk and stir, it will smooth out. It's worth the little extra work. The end result will be a thicker, soup-type sauce.
Add whipping cream and one cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir in the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Continue to stir until cheese is melted and incorporated into sauce. When you use the sauce, you may notice that some of the flour has settled to the bottom. Just stir it again to incorporate.
Remove from heat and add pimentos and parsley, stirring well. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate bowl, toss the mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses together.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread a layer of the cream sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
Sprinkle one cup of shredded cheese mixture on top of the sauce.
Layer lasagna noodles over the cheese, then spread half of the chicken/spinach mixture on top of the noodles. Top the chicken/spinach with one cup of the shredded cheese, and then add about a third of the remaining cream sauce on top of that.
Repeat with another layer of noodles, the remaining chicken/spinach mixture, one cup of the cheese mixture and one-third of the cream sauce.
Spread the remaining noodles in a layer on top and cover with the remaining cream sauce.
Sprinkle the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese over the top.
(*If you are making this ahead of when you are serving it, you can stop at this step and refrigerate it a day before you bake it. Add 10-20 minutes to the bake time if you do this.)
Bake for 30-45 minutes until the lasagna is bubbling, then remove from oven. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting.
Enjoy every bite!