So, I have been wanting to make chicken lasagne for a couple of weeks now, but everytime I have all the ingredients, something has prevented me from making it. I had leftover roast chicken to use, and it got used for lunches, or some other food item needed to be used up more urgently. When I looked into the fridge and saw the partial bag of washed spinach that was sitting there, that motivated me to make the lasagne.
I had no cooked chicken to use, which is what I usually use when I make this, so I decided to grill a couple of chicken breasts. I marinaded them, and it added so much flavour to the lasagne. Next time I grill chicken breasts, I might just grill extra so I can make this again!
When I went to grab the lasagne noodles I saw a can of artichoke hearts, and those went into the dish as well. Everyone else was skeptical about this, but raved about how yummy it was. So all in all, it was a win...I got to have my chicken lasagne, and the spinach and asiago in the fridge got used up before being thrown out.
Start off by marinating he chicken breasts...
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
pinch of chili flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the marinade, turning them to coat them.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cook on a hot grill until the chicken is cooked through.
Allow the cooked chicken to rest for 5 minutes.
Thinly slice the chicken, and set aside until needed.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and cook 9 lasagne noodles until almost cooked. Immediately drain them and rinse under cold water to stop them from overcooking. This also makes them easier to work with!
While the noodles are cooking, you can make the sauce...
In a hot, dry pan wilt the spinach; if you like you can add a little bit of water. As the spinach starts to wilt it will release water, and this`is what steams it. Keep turning it to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan and scorching.
When the spinach has all wilted, place it in a strainer to drain some of the water, as well as to allow it to cool.
When it is completely cool, squeeze any remaining water out of the spinach, and roughly chop it. I had about 2 cups of cooked spinach.
Set aside until needed.
In a large bowl combine:
the chopped spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Make a bechamel ( see the post Recipe: Basic White Sauce (Bechamel) ) using:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
Add the bechamel to the spinach, cheese and herbs along with:
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.
Mix well to combine; taste and adjust seasoning.
Start assembling the lasagne...
Spread 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9" X 13" ovenproof dish.
Cover the sauce with 1/4 of the sliced chicken and sprinkle with a bit of grated Parmesan.
Add a layer of 3 noodles.
Repeat until all the noddles, sauce and chicken are used up, ending with a layer of sauce and chicken.
Sprinkle the top layer with finely grated Asiago.
Bake the lasagne at 350F until it it heated through,bubbling and golden and crispy on top. Allow it to rest for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
- The grilled chicken breasts can be used for salads, sandwhiches or wraps, pizza toppings or served with vegetables as a meal. The fennel and basil add a slight licorice flavour to the chicken and the chili flakes a kick of heat in the background. As with anything, the amount of heat you add depends on you.
- You can use leftover chopped chicken if you have it, that is what I have always done before. This is a great way to use it up.
- The chicken can be omitted if you like, giving a vegetarian lasagne.
- Instead of chicken use cooked shrimp; cooked flaked fish; thinly sliced pork tenderloin.
- If you have chicken stock, use that instead of milk when making the bechamel, or use some of each.
- I used Asiago for the top of the lasagne as I had no mozzarella. I found the sharpness of it went well with the whole dish. The sauce tends to be a bit on the rich side, but the artichokes and Asiago cut through the richness. Goat cheese can also be used, as can feta cheese.
- Other vegetables such as olives, roasted red peppers, cooked sliced leeks or roasted garlic would be nice in the lasagne as well.
- When marinating the chicken, try rosemary instead of basil. Add a bit of grated lemon zest as well.
- The lasagne can be assembled ahead of time and kept well wrapped in the fridge. It can also be frozen.
- The various elements of the dish can be made ahead as you have the time. The chicken can be marinated and grilled ahead; the bechamel can be made ahead; the spinach can be wilted and the whole sauce can be assembled the day before making the lasagne.
- The sauce can be used as a filling for cannelloni or ravioli; chop the chicken finely and mix it into the sauce. It can also be used to stuff spaghetti or acorn squash.