Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

24 03 2015

Traditional lasagna can be time-consuming, but in this version you can save time by using store-bought or pre-made pesto, and no-boil lasagna sheets. Just because you’re saving on time though, doesn’t mean you’re skimping on the flavor. Trust me, this lasagna is totally decadent! You can make this two days in advance if you want, just store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.

I made this for a family Sunday supper and was feeding a crowd, so I doubled the recipe. If you end up having some leftover ricotta filling like me, you can toss it with some whole wheat pasta and a little of the pasta water for another great meal or side!

Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

The following makes 10-12 servings (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken
  • 1 package (15 oz) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 box flat, no-boil lasagna sheets
  • 4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

For the bechamel, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and nutmeg, bring to a simmer, and cook 2 more minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked chicken (simply season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic and saute in a little olive oil until cooked through) and set aside.

For the lasagna, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, and 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper.

To build, spread 2/3 cup bechamel in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Using a rubber spatula, spread some of the ricotta mixture on 3 lasagna sheets making sure they’re fully covered, then lay them side by side in the baking dish. Top lasagna with more bechamel, making sure to cover the noodles. Next top with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat laying three times or until your ingredients run out, making sure that the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Top the final layer with 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 15 more minutes, then broil on high until golden, 2-3 minutes. Let lasagna rest 15 minutes before serving.


Zucchini “Ravioli” or “Lasagna” With Turkey and Kale Filling

19 02 2014

The idea of using veggies as an understudy for pasta ravioli or lasagna is brilliant. I’ve seen pics for this all over pinterest, but the blog I finally stumbled on to check out the how-to for the ravioli, was CupcakesOMG!. Her how-to pics using squash are fab, so much so, that I’m not going to recreate them, I’ll just link you to them here.

I used zucchini instead of squash, and went rogue on the filling and the sauce, but don’t feel confined to either of our recipes – use whatever filling and sauce you’d like. Once you get the ravioli or lasagna technique down, the variations are endless!

I set out to make the ravioli tonight, however I underestimated how long it would take. It’s not hard, it’s just a little time-consuming. So after making a few of the ravioli, I switched my game plan and built a zucchini lasagna out of the remaining ingredients and baked them both together. Below I show both options…both are equally delicious!

Zucchini "Ravioli" or "Lasagna" With Turkey and Kale Filling

Zucchini “Ravioli” or “Lasagna” With Turkey and Kale Filling

Zucchini "Ravioli" or "Lasagna" With Turkey and Kale Filling

Zucchini “Ravioli” or “Lasagna” With Turkey and Kale Filling

The following serves 3-4:

  • 4-5 small-medium zucchini
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup packed chopped kale
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded sharp provolone
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut ends of the zucchini off and slice down the middle so you have two halves. Using the narrowest setting on your mandolin, slice the zucchini into long, flat strips.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add half the diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add half the minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Season lightly with salt to taste. Add ground turkey and raise the heat to medium-high. Saute, until meat is cooked all the way through, about 5 minutes. I used a little homemade sausage seasoning to add some extra flavor to the meat. You can skip this step, but here’s the recipe for the seasoning I use:

While the meat cooks, make your sauce. In a saucepan, add another Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the diced onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the rest of the minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, add parsley and use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly.

Meanwhile, add kale to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add ricotta, 2 Tbsp grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. Once the turkey is cooked through, remove from heat and mix in the kale-ricotta puree.

Assemble the ravioli by just barely overlapping two strips of squash next to each other lengthwise. Do the same over the middle of the first two strips, but perpendicular, creating a cross or “t” shape. Spoon the turkey/kale filling in the center of the cross, then bring all the ends of the squash strips together, overlapping each other, to create a square-looking “ravioli”. Check out the blog linked above for specific how-to pics.

Spray a casserole with non-stick spray and put a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom (just enough to coat the bottom). Next, place the ravioli seem-side down. If making the lasagna instead, lay strips of zucchini end to end, across the whole casserole dish, on top of the sauce. Add a layer of the meat mixture, top with another layer of zucchini. Add the remaining meat and top with a final layer of zucchini (from bottom to top it should be zucchini, meat, zucchini, meat, zucchini). Add a layer of sauce on top of the zucchini and finish with a layer of shredded provolone.

Regardless if you’re making ravioli or lasagna, cover casserole with foil and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until zuchini is tender and the filling is warmed through. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes.

To serve, dish out ravioli or lasagna and top with a little more sauce if desired. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve with a salad.

Mexican Wonton Lasagna With Pulled Pork

3 01 2014

Per tradition, I made pulled pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s Day, and saved some of the pork (and the liquid I slow cooked it in, essentially a homemade pork stock) to use in another meal. Leaving the house this morning I had wonton wrappers and pork dancing in my head, and before long I was dreaming of a wonton lasagna for dinner tonight! I generally always keep canned tomatoes, beans, stock and spices on hand to have in between grocery trips to be able to whip up a Mexican dinner like this.

Mexican Wonton Lasagna With Pulled Pork

Mexican Wonton Lasagna With Pulled Pork

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup chicken, beef or homemade stock
  • 1 and ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 and ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 and ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups pulled pork
  • 1 (12 oz) package wonton wrappers
  • Reduced-fat shredded cheese, like a Mexican blend or cheddar

Preheat oven to 400.

I used a cast iron skillet to make this meal. If you don’t have one, you can cook in a skillet and then transfer to a casserole dish to bake.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium; add half the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute. Add green chilies and cook for another minute. Add the beans and ½ cup stock, and cook for a few minutes. Mash the beans with a potato masher. Add ½ tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and chili powder. Heat until beans are warned through, a few more minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt to taste and lime juice. Set aside until you’re ready to build the lasagna.

While the beans are cooking, heat another Tbsp of oil in the cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add the onions and the rest of the minced garlic, sweat for a minute or two. Add a tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and chili powder, 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and season with salt to taste. Stir to combine, cooking for another minute. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of stock. Add tomatoes and pulled pork. Stir to combine and bring to a low simmer. Season with salt to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often to let some of the liquid cook out. Remove from heat, then remove 2/3 of the tomato/pork sauce from the cast iron skillet to a bowl.

To build the lasagna:

Spread the remaining tomato/pork mixture left in the skillet out evenly. Layer wonton wrappers overtop the sauce (about 13 wrappers), overlapping slightly. Top with 1/3 of the beans and some shredded cheese. Add 1/3 of the tomato/pork sauce, top with another layer of 13 wonton wrappers, 1/3 of the beans and some more shredded cheese. Repeat layering one more time with the remaining ingredients (sauce, wontons, beans and cheese) – you should end with a layer of cheese on top.

Cover with the lid (if using a cast iron skillet) otherwise use foil, and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid, or foil and bake until cheese is browned, 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Roasted Veggie Lasagna with Tomato-Herb Cream Sauce

27 03 2012

Roasted eggplant and zucchini are great all on their own. Add a deep, rich tomato-herb cream sauce, build a quick lasagna and now you have an amazing supper! If lasagna intimidates you, use oven ready noodles to save yourself the fuss and prepare the dish when you have time, store it in the fridge to bake later in the week when you don’t 🙂

Roasted Veggie Lasagna with Tomato-Herb Cream Sauce

The following makes a 9 x 13 pan of lasagna:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (no boiling required)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese, enough to layer in the lasagna
  • Grated parmesan cheese, enough to layer in the lasagna

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant and zucchini horizontally (aim to get the same size pieces as the lasagna noodles), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat and arrange in a single layer on baking sheets. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, turning half way through. While the veggies are roasting, work on the sauce. Remove veggies when done and turn the oven down to 375 degrees.

For the sauce (compliments of Emeril Lagasse, with a few tweaks from me of course):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Half of a medium red or yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 cups peeled, chopped, and seeded tomatoes (or 2 cups crushed can tomatoes)
  • 1 sprig thyme (or a sprinkle of ground / dried thyme)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Handful of each fresh parsley and basil, chopped and extra for garnish

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds (be sure to stir garlic when adding so it doesn’t burn in the hot pan). Add the tomatoes and thyme. Season with salt and crushed red pepper, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced a little and starting to thicken. Add the cream and cook until reduced by some more, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the butter, basil and parsley and stir to combine. Remove the thyme sprigs (if you used fresh thyme). Taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency if necessary.

To build the lasagna, spread a little sauce on the bottom of a prepared 9 x 13 baking dish. Next, lay 4 slices of lasagna on top of the sauce all in one direction. Top with some mozzarella cheese. Then add a layer of roasted veggies, followed by a layer of sauce and parmesan cheese. Add another layer of 4 noodles, this time all in the opposite direction as the first layer of noodles. Top with some mozzarella cheese, then a final layer of roasted veggies, a layer of sauce and a layer of parmesan cheese. Add the final layer of 4 noodles, all in the same direction you started. Top with the remaining sauce and a final layer of mozzarella cheese. Be careful not to use all the sauce up in the beginning of layer, parcel out so you’ll have enough throughout.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 10 – 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garish with more parmesan and fresh parsley or basil.