Saturday, June 2, 2012

Creamy chicken pesto lasagna

This weekend is a work weekend, and spending a lot of time in the kitchen is not in the cards.  I decided the best course of action was to make a lasagna.  I had enough leftovers from other dishes, I thought I could pull something together easily, and I did.


I made my brussel sprout pesto.  I then shredded up some chicken I had leftover from the last 'beer in the rear' chicken I made.  BTW, if you haven't tried this method of cooking a roast chicken, I really can't recommend it highly enough.  If I have time tomorrow, I might make another.  If I do, I will post my rub for it, as well as some photos.  It's one of the most juicy oven roasted chicken recipes I've ever had.  More on that later...

With my pesto made, chicken shredded, and cheeses shredded, I was ready to go.

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a low fat, or low calorie dish.  This is intended as a nice side to a beautiful salad.  I serve mine with arugula tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and some lemon zest.

I can't give you quantities on this one, as I find the best lasagnas are those tailored to an individual's tastes, as well as the size of the pan, but here are the ingredients, minus quantities.


Whipping cream
Pesto of your choosing
Ricotta cheese
Shredded (cooked) chicken
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese


Into your baking dish, add enough whipping cream to just barely cover the bottom.  Layer in your first set of lasagna noodles in a subway pattern.


Top with small dollops of ricotta and pesto, alternating as you go.


Top with some of your mozzarella, chicken and arugula.


Top with another layer of noodles, alternating from the first layer, using a subway pattern.  Give it a good press, to flatten out those dollops of ricotta and pesto.  Don't worry if your noodles crack, just fill in the gaps.


After the noodles are added, and the bottom layers compressed, pour in the whipping cream until it comes up a bit, and starts to fill in the gaps.  The noodles go into the pan dry, and need a liquid to absorb, and they will absorb a lot, so don't skimp here.  If you wish, half and half can be used in place of whipping cream, and even milk, though I haven't found milk produces a particularly creamy lasagna.  In a 10" x 14" baking dish, I think I used about 5-6 cups of cream.  When it comes to liquid in lasagna, I find too much is better than too little.  IMO, dry lasagna is quite unappealing.

Alternately, you can pre-cook your noodles, which means they will require less liquid in the pan.  Totally up to you.  I find it's just easier to to use dry noodles when building the layers, so that's what I do.

Continue layering in this fashion until you have reached about 1/2" from the top of the pan.  For me, this is usually about 4 layers of noodles.  With each layer of ricotta and pesto, I make sure I alternate from the layer before.  This way, as you cut into the lasagna, your servings will have equal amounts of both.  For instance, on your first layer, if you start in the corner with a dollop of pesto, on the next layer, start with a dollop of ricotta in that same corner.  Make sense?

Top the last layer of noodles with mozarella and parmesan.


Bake until cheese is bubbly, and the top has a nice golden brown color.

Let the lasagna set for at least 30 minutes before you cut into it.  It will stay plenty warm, and as it sets, it becomes easier to slice and remove cleanly from the pan.

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