Spinach and Chicken Lasagna
This recipe calls for 1 lb. of fresh pasta in sheets. You can make your own or buy fresh pasta in sheets from a store like Pastaworks. Alternatively you can use the no-boil dry lasagna you can buy at any supermarket. The difference will be mainly in texture. The dry lasagna will give you more of a bite and chewy texture. The fresh pasta will have a smoother, melting quality. There is no right or wrong here- only tasty goodness. Also, this dish works great for vegetarians by simply omitting the chicken layer. You could add a sautéed broccoli or mushroom layer in it’s place.
For the Béchamel (white sauce):
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups skim milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Add the garlic clove. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, remove the garlic clove, and set aside until ready to use. Makes 3 cups. (p.s. this sauce is the base for Alfredo, just add some parmesan cheese and toss it with cooked pasta.)
You will also need:
- 1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lb. cooked chicken, chopped (white or dark meat are both fine) I poached mine in chicken broth, but it could be baked, grilled, leftover etc.
- 1 T. butter, softened
- 1 lb. fresh pasta in sheets
- ½ C. grated parmesan cheese
In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the spinach, shallot, and garlic for about 4 or 5 minutes or until the shallots are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Place the ingredients in a bowl with a cup of the béchamel sauce. Stir to combine or use an immersion blender to puree- depending on the texture you like. In another bowl, toss the cooked chicken with a second cup of the béchamel. Now you are ready to assemble the lasagna. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 inch casserole. In the bottom of the casserole, spread about ½ C. of the béchamel to make a thin layer.
Place a layer of pasta in the dish to cover the bottom. It’s ok to overlap the pasta a little bit, or to trim and patch where you need to. On top of the pasta spread about 1/2 of the spinach mixture and sprinkle it with ¼ C. of cheese. Lay another layer of pasta down over that to cover it. On top of the second layer of pasta, spread the chicken and béchamel mixture evenly. Spread the rest of the spinach over the chicken. Lay one more layer of pasta down and spread the last of the béchamel over the top. Sprinkle the other ¼ C. of cheese over the top. At this point you could refrigerate the lasagna overnight and pop it in the oven for dinner the next day, you could wrap it and freeze it, or you could bake it. About 25 minutes in the oven and you should have a nice bubbling golden topped lasagna. If cooking from frozen, add another 20-30 minutes. Allow the lasagna to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting.