Chicken Lasagna

17ChickenLasagnabfLORich came across this lasagna recipe that he wanted me to try.

The original, from the very nice folk at Betty Crocker, looked tasty, and I loved that you let the whole thing rest overnight before baking… but…

it looked, to me, more than a little bit on the bland side. I’ve always felt that just because a food is beige doesn’t mean it also needs to taste beige, too! So, I set about making a few, ermmm, adjustments.

•1-1/2 cup finely chopped celery
•1 cup diced onion
•1-3/4 cup diced red, yellow, and orange pepper
•4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
•3 chicken breast halves, cut into cubes
•1/4 tsp seasoned salt
•Couple of grinds fresh Tellicherry pepper
02bBasilCottageCheesebfLO•1 pint half-and-half
•1/2 cup veggie stock
•4 oz cream cheese, cubed
•7 oz Gouda cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
– or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
•1-1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce
– or your favorite hot sauce
•1 tbsp red vermouth
•1 lb ‘shrooms, sliced (optional)
•16 oz small-curd cottage cheese
•1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
•1 egg, beaten
•9 uncooked lasagna noodles
07bShroomsDonebfLO•1 pkg (16 oz) grated mozzarella cheese
•1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Note: several markets I visited were out of fresh basil, so I picked up one of those squeeze tubes in the produce section. Not too, too bad a substitute!

Slice the basil leaves into thin strips and stir together in a bowl with the cottage cheese and the egg (if using the tube, just squeeze the same amount into the bowl). Whisk together to blend well, then set aside.

05AddVeggiesbfLOMelt a little butter and some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, then add the ‘shrooms and sauté with a bit of seasoned salt and fresh ground Tellicherry pepper until still plump, but nicely browned with little crispity edges here and there. Set aside.

Melt another tablespoon or two of butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add the chicken and sauté for three minutes.

06aAddMilkCreamCheesebfLOAdd the celery, peppers, onion, and garlic and continue cooking for another five minutes or so, until the chicken is no longer pink and mostly cooked through.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the veggie stock, half and half, the cubed cream cheese, along with the Aleppo pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce, and stir until the cheese has melted.

09aSauceAddGoudabfLOAdd the ‘shrooms, if you plan on using them.

Add the shredded gouda cheese bit by bit, stirring until it has all melted.

Taste the sauce and see what you think.

I thought mine needed a little sumpin’ sumpin’, so added the additional teaspoon of Cajun Power Sauce, one tablespoon of sweet red vermouth, and a goodly grind of black pepper.

14NoodlesSauceCheesebfLOMuch more better!

OK, sauce done, it’s time to assemble our lasagna. Remember – this recipe calls for an over night soak, so you don’t need to boil the noodles first.

Lightly brush the bottom of a baking pan with olive oil, then cover the bottom with one cup of the sauce.

Arrange three of the lasagna noodles on top, then cover with 1-1/2 cup of the sauce, then half of the cottage cheese-basil mixture and half of the mozzarella.

15TopLayerbfLOAdd another layer: noodles, sauce, then the remaining cottage cheese-basil mixture and the mozzarella.

Finish off with the last three noodles, then pour the remaining sauce over all.

Cover the pan tightly with foil, then stash in the fridge overnight – or for at least eight hours.

16bAddCheesebfLOWhen ready to bake, remove the pan from the fridge and let come to cool room temperature while you heat your oven to 350°.

Note: you probably want to put your lasagna pan in a another rimmed baking sheet (foil lined is a good thing), ’cause it will drip.

Bake, still tightly covered, for 45 minutes.

18LasagnaSaladbfLORemove the foil, sprinkle with the Parmesan, and return to the oven for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted, the noodles are tender, and the casserole is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

We had ours with an asparagus and romaine salad with home made French dressing.

Oh, and just another quick fresh grind of good black pepper over all.

Nice – and not beige-y tasting at all!

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