Normally, this is what I would call a fall/winter dish… Only because I try and use the oven as little as possible during stifling Indiana summers (one of the quirks of living in a charming, centuries old building- no central a/c). However, with the odd fall-like weather we’ve been having this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to make more cool weather dishes for dinner and give our grill a break! This chicken lasagna is a welcome take on the classic. The basics are the same… Noodles, sauce, cheeses… But slightly healthier (I use that term in spite of the cream sauce and layers of cheese 😜). I especially enjoy the hint of nutmeg in the creamy white sauce. This is a great make-ahead freezer dinner for busy families, someone who’s ill, or new parents!
For the filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
2 tbsps olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
For the sauce:
5 tbsps unsalted butter
4 tbsps flour
4 cups warm milk
2 tsps salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
~8 no boil lasagna noodles
~2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
To start, thoroughly cook the chicken breasts in broth (my preference; more flavorful!) or water with the bay leaf. Drain and shred the meat. Let me blow your mind for a sec- I throw my cooked meat into my stand mixer bowl, turn on high for a few seconds, and HUZZAH- perfectly shredded meat. Thanks Pinterest! 😉
In a large pan, heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Mix in the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, mix in the chicken and set aside.
Sauce time! Melt the butter in a medium pot or pan. Add the flour and cook it until it’s no longer raw, constantly stirring. Add the warm milk slowly, whisking it constantly until completely combined and smooth. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and continue cooking until the sauce thickens it up enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the stove and set aside.
Now comes the fun part! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spoon some of the white sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Make one layer of lasagna noodles (about 4 sheets per layer, 3 horizontal and 1 vertical… I had to break a small piece off of the vertical piece to make it fit), cover it with some of the chicken filling and top it with some mozzarella, then white sauce. Don’t be shy with the sauce around the edges, or they’ll be dry. Yuck.
Cover the dish with foil, avoiding touching the sauce. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and let it get good and golden and bubbly, and bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and wait 10 minutes before cutting the lasagna. This is important! You’ll end up with sloppy, runny lasagna due to the hot sauce if you cut into it too soon. Not that we’ve done that around here….
There you have it. Happy eating, friends! Til next time.
Recipe from The Way to His Heart