Garlic Chicken Spinach Mushroom Lasagna Original Recipe

Lasagna is an especially nice dish for preparing in advance of a gathering. You can even make it the day before and keep in the refrigerator, where the flavors will continue to marinate.  It will bake in less than an hour. The quantity is suitable for feeding a dozen or more guests, especially if accompanied with side dishes.

For the best “presentation”, it is especially nice to serve it whole in an extra-tall glass pan.  The cheese on the top should be browned and singed along the edges. And, the anticipation for this dish will only increase as the aromas waft through the house as it slow-cooks in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast, Fresh or Frozen (1 pound)
  • Mushrooms (1 pound)
  • Garlic (1 head)
  • Shallots (about 2-3)
  • Spinach, Fresh or Frozen (20 oz. package)
  • Heavy Cream (1 Pint)
  • Mozzarella Cheese (1 pound)
  • Parmesan Cheese (8 oz.)
  • Ricotta Cheese, Whole Milk (1 pound)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves (1 package, about 25 leaves)
  • Lasagna Pasta (1 1/2 boxes Barilla flat or wavy sheets)
  • Dry Italian Seasonings (two handfuls, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley)
  • Dry Chicken Base or Salt (optional)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Preparation:

Wash and cut the chicken breast into 1-2 inch strips. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Dice the garlic and the shallots. Grate the mozzarella and parmesan. Mix the Ricotta, parmesan, and one handful of the dry Italian seasonings in a bowl. Wash the basil, remove all stems, and slice the leaves into long strips.

If using fresh spinach, wash well and remove all the stems. Blanch the fresh spinach in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Remove from heat and immediately immerse in ice-water. If frozen, defrost. Vigorously squish all the liquid out, whether fresh or frozen.

Add a bit of olive oil to a pan and bring up to high-heat. Add the chicken, and cook for about two minutes. Remove from pan to a clean dish. The chicken need not be fully cooked in the center at this point.

Add a bit more olive oil to the hot pan. Add the garlic and shallots. Sauté for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the juice of the mushrooms starts to come out. Add the heavy cream, a handful of dry Italian seasonings, fresh ground pepper, and dry chicken base (or salt) to taste. Bring to a low-boil and then immediately reduce the heat and slow-cook the sauce for about five minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to get thick. Remove the pan from the heat and toss the chicken back in.

It is optional whether you want to cook the lasagna pasta before adding. If used dry, the pasta will soak up more of the juice and make for firmer lasagna. If using the “flat”, thin pasta (without ridges), I would suggest using it dry. If using the larger, thicker pasta with ridges, I would suggest cooking until it can be bent, but still very firm. Do not overcook (the pasta should be too firm to eat). Remove the cooked pasta form the pan, rinse under cold water, and immediately spread out on a flat surface (do this quickly, or they will harden and break).

It is now time to put it all together. There will be four layers total, so the chicken/sauce needs to be used up in 1/4 portions for each. Add one layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover with pasta, overlapping by 1/4 to 1/2 pasta noodle each. Carefully spread 1/2 of the ricotta mix evenly over the pasta. Evenly add all of the spinach. Add another layer of sauce. Lay down another layer of pasta, spread the remainder of the ricotta mix, and add all of the strips of fresh basil leaves. Add another layer of sauce. Lay down the final layer of pasta, add the remainder of the sauce, and carefully sprinkle the mozzarella over the top. Dust the top of the lasagna with dry Italian seasonings for presentation.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Total cook time will take about 45 minutes (this will vary based on your oven, so adjust accordingly). Be sure to check the lasagna after 30 minutes. When the top is fully browned or beginning to brown too much, cover with tin foil and return to the oven. You will the juices bubbling through the center and bottom of the pan. Leave the pan covered and let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Bon Appétit!


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