13 February 2012

Eats: white lasagna

Happy almost-Valentine’s Day, everyone! Or Single’s Appreciation Day, or whatever minor holiday you choose to celebrate tomorrow. I personally am rather ambivalent about Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s nice and all, but I would rather get flowers and stuff when it’s unexpected. Also I was perhaps traumatized as a young child by having a birthday so close to Valentine’s Day. One can only have leftover Valentine’s Day candy at one’s birthday party for so many years before one starts to become a little resentful.

Anyway, I decided to share a recipe with you today that you might enjoy preparing for a Valentine’s Day dinner, if you are like Mr. P and me and prefer to have a romantic dinner at home. The dish is reddish and cheesy, not unlike the holiday itself! The original recipe was one found via Pinterest called “creamy chicken and artichoke lasagna”. Because that’s too long to fit on my dry-erase menu, I’m calling it “white lasagna” around here.

The following amounts, I should say, allowed me to make two 8x8 lasagnas – one to eat that night, and one to freeze for later. I love two meals (four, counting leftovers) for the work of one!

You start with some shredded chicken. I try to throw some in the crockpot occasionally to cook, then shred and portion for freezing, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I prepared two small-ish chicken breasts for this recipe. I think the source actually used canned chicken (she says canned “everything” which I guess includes the chicken), so give that a try if you don’t mind the stuff.

While that’s cooking, prep the artichokes and sundried tomatoes. I chopped up almost a whole can of quartered artichokes for this recipe – almost, because Mr. P always sneaks a few before they make it into the dish. And rather than chopping up sundried tomatoes from a jar, I used a few big spoonfuls of the same sundried tomato “bruschetta” I put in the sauce for the gnocchi with spinach, which doesn’t require chopping. I added those to the shredded chicken once it was ready:

Then I put on a pot of water to boil the noodles. I hate hate HATE lasagna noodles with a fiery and somewhat irrational passion – they always tear or stick, and I always try to use them while they’re still the temperature of eight thousand burning suns which makes me yell and swear like a sailor. So I have begun to boycott lasagna noodles. I use bow-tie instead, which are manageable and less rage-inducing. Either way, whether you use happy bow-ties or evil lasagna noodles, now’s a good time to boil 12 oz. of them in a big pot of salted water.

Then it’s time to prepare the creamy sauce for this dish. In my mixer bowl, I combined two blocks of softened cream cheese with a cup of milk, along with garlic powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Again, I don’t measure my spices, but I obviously used more garlic powder, salt, and pepper than was called for in the recipe (particularly the salt and pepper, which were conspicuously absent from the recipe). I didn’t bother with chopping fresh basil either.

Then I mixed it with my stand mixer until completely smooth. Have a mentioned how much I adore my stand mixer? Between that and my boycott of lasagna noodles, there’s very little grunting and swearing going on in my kitchen anymore!

Yes, it looks exactly like ranch dressing. No, it doesn’t taste like it. I had a very weird moment of sensory dissonance when I taste-tested it.

Anyway! Once it’s blended, I stirred in half of it with the shredded chicken, artichokes, and tomatoes, along with a big handful of mozzarella.

By then, my noodles were done boiling, so I drained them and tossed them with olive oil. Then, it was laying time! I started with pouring part of the white sauce in the bottom of TWO 8x8 pans (remember, this recipe is doubled – or you could make one 9x13’ for a family) and topped that with a single layer of noodles:

Next comes a layer of the chicken-artichoke-tomato-cheesy-that’s-why-I-shortened-it-to-“white-lasagna” mixture:

Then repeat as many time as you need to use up your ingredients (the magic of lasagna!). I think I got three noodle layers and two chicken layers in each pan. Finally, top it with the remainder of the white sauce, some shredded mozzarella, and some shredded parmesan:

And pop it in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until heated and melty and delicious. If your chicken and noodles are still warm, it won’t take that long; if it’s coming from being thawed in the fridge, it might (probably will) take longer. But when it’s ready:

Mmmm, cheesy goodness!

And how was this? Well, based on the ingredients it sounds like it would be absolutely scrumptious – but I was burned last year by a dish with similar ingredients that turned out just... bland and blah and not super great and nowhere near expectations. So I was cautious. But fortunately, this turned out to be delicious! I’m chalking it up to the sundried tomato bruschetta. That stuff is made of win.

So if you’d like a new tasty dish to serve your someone-special, this could fit the bill! And if you’re instead celebrating Single’s Appreciation Day? Lucky you, because you get more leftovers! No really, I’m jealous. Enjoy!


Tina said...

Ron said I needed to write a paragraph in self-defense - Ha! - regarding your heart-themed birthday parties... seems I remember a rainbow theme, Hello Kitty, Glamour Girls make-up, swimming and skating parties among some of those sprinkled hearts. Whatever. We've joked about it so much, mostly me on myself, that it's ok to be remembered that way. I do think it's funny...
Must stop and get these Valentine's in the mail - I think it may be part of a personal rebellion against the commercialization of the day to be intentionally (sorta - more apt would be an attempted justification of procrastinating) late in getting them done. Telling this has spoiled my surprise of your receiving a Valentines on a non-Valentine's Day, tho'... and NO I did not wait for them to be on SALE. HA! Love you guys!