Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Raising French Babies and Grating Soft Cheeses

I have wanted to make a white lasagna for a while now, but needed both inspiration and a break from the cycling season to make such a fattening dish. Inspiration arrived in the way of a Plow to Porch basket that included both early season zucchini and spring spinach. Both sounded like delicious additions to a white chicken lasagna. I was excited to use my new food processor to grate the mozzarella cheese, but forgot the helpful hint of freezing this cheese before grating. It is a little too soft to grate straight out of the fridge and when I turned on the processor, it managed to get sucked through the shute as though it was a science fiction "blob" character. Of course, the sound that this made alerted the husband. When he asked "what the heck was that?" I was able to respond with a quote from one of my favorite cycling season Radioshack commercials: "I'm raising French babies and grating soft cheeses, as is the custom here!"

**This commercial is based on Lance Armstrong's fictional assistant Alphonse, who sneaks onto Lance's bike while he is out of town and pretends he is an overweight Lance, riding to victory. My favorite Radioshack commercial. The actual line from the commercial is: "They're raising French babies and throwing soft cheeses as is the custom here" in a faked British accent.

This ended up being a tasty meal and a good chance to experience the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme product. I used their Italian Herb flavor as an addition to the bechamel sauce to add a little thickness and flavor, and I appreciated the more complex flavor it added. I think I will be using this product again, since we like cream cheese, but not too much, and this cuts some of the cream cheese heaviness for us (I am not affiliated with this product in any way, by the way).

White Chicken Lasagna (my own creation)
7 No Boil Lasagna sheets
2 cooked skinless chicken breasts, diced (I used rotisserie chicken)
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 pound zucchini, shredded (about 3 small or 2 medium)
8 oz low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 Tbs fresh or 1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion & garlic and cook until golden. Add spinach and zucchini and cook until spinach is wilted. Mix in cooked chicken and remove from heat. Meanwhile, cook the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and cook about 1 minute. Add milk and stir constantly until no lumps are noticeable and sauce begins to bubble & thicken. Add cooking creme and stir to combine. Sauce will be thick.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, egg, parmesan, basil & pepper. In a 13" x 9" baking pan sprayed with cooking spray, add about a 1/2 cup of bechamel sauce. Layer about half of the lasagna noodles (I did 3 facing vertically), then spread with about half of the ricotta mixture. Add a layer of about half of the chicken/veggie mixture, then top with about half the remaining bechamel. Repeat these layers, then top the entire dish with an even layer of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes more until cheese starts to turn golden.

1 comment:

  1. I love using my food processor for grating. Makes things so much easier.