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    Lasagna Bianco

    I’ve prepared this dish on several occasions and always enjoyed this alternative to my other lasagna recipes. It’s versatile in that you can use either chicken, turkey or pork depending on your taste.

    You will need:

    Lasagna Noodles — one pound
    Bechamel Sauce — I’ve included an easy recipe in the preparation below. Or look for one on the drill down menu from Rouxbe after the recipe. You will need to double the quantity.
    Ground Chicken — 2 pounds. It’s best to grind your own meat. Purchase some chicken thighs (boneless or de-bone yourself) then put in a food processor and pulse chop until you get a coarse grind. Alternatively use pork or turkey.
    Fresh Oregano — 3 or 4 ounces
    Fresh Sage — 3 or 4 ounces
    Spaghetti Squash — one medium size, if you can’t find this unique squash you can replace with yellow squash although the texture and taste will differ slightly.
    Button Mushrooms — one pound
    Parmesan Cheese — approximately one cup
    Ricotta Cheese — one pound
    Olive Oil
    Sea Salt/White Pepper — approximately one TBSP each.

    If you are going to use dried lasagna noodles soak them in warm water just until softened, if you are going to use the no cook variety skip this step. Prepare Bechamel Sauce, here is an easy recipe to use. Cool, finely chiffonade the sage and stir into the sauce. Place ricotta cheese in a bowl and stir to loosen then finely chop the oregano and stir into the cheese.

    In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the ground meat (chicken, turkey or pork) add a film of olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Cook the meat until some of the pink color is gone, you won’t need to cook it all the way through since it will finish cooking when the lasagna is baked. Cool and set aside. Place the squash in a 350° preheated oven and bake until softened. Cool on a rack and once cool enough to handle cut in half lengthwise, remove seed pod, and using a fork pull the flesh away from the skin, it will look like cooked spaghetti, thereby the name. If you are using yellow squash there is not need to precook however slice them to ¼” thick on the bias. Set aside.

    Now that all the prep work is done it’s time to assemble. Lightly oil a lasagna pan which is large enough to lay the noodles down lengthwise. Pour ½ cup of the bechamel sauce and spread evenly over the bottom. Place one layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce and then spread another ½ cup of sauce over them. Spread one or two cups of the meat over the sauce then add a layer of the cheese. Add a layer of noodles then spread half of the squash over the noodles, add a layer of bechamel then cheese. Repeat this process ending with a layer of the bechamel on top of the final layer of noodles, sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350° oven for one half hour, remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is nicely browned.

    As with my other lasagna recipes you should be able to get 12 servings by cutting it in 4 equal sections lengthwise and 3 equal sections width wise.


    Vegetable Lasagna

    When I think about comfort food one of the dishes that comes to mind almost immediately is a good lasagna. I’ve developed several adaptations that seem to get rave reviews. I didn’t classify this one as vegetarian due to the fact that carnivores will enjoy it as well as those of you who prefer not to eat meat. It does however contain cheese so that might limit your desire to give it a try.

    The preparation time might seem onerous to some but I think you’ll prepare this dish more than once. After all good things are well worth the wait.

    You will need:

    Lasagna Noodles – one pound, you can use no boil or dried pasta the difference will be shown in the preparation below.
    Eggplant – the quantity is determined by the type you use the difference will be shown in the preparation below.
    Zucchini – approximately one pound
    Yellow Squash – one pound
    Button Mushrooms – one pound
    Bechamel Sauce – I’ve included an easy recipe in the preparation below. Or look for one on the drill down menu from Rouxbe after the recipe.
    Ricota Cheese – one pound
    Parmesan Cheese – 6 oz.
    Italian Tomatoes – two 32 oz cans either crushed or whole
    Fresh Basil Leaves – 6 oz.
    Fresh Oregano Leaves – 6 oz.
    Salt/Pepper – you will need both table (¼ cup) and sea salt to taste. It sounds like a lot of table salt but you will see why in the preparation below.
    Flour &#150 enough to dust the eggplant.

    Prepare Bechamel Sauce, here is an easy recipe to use. If you are going to use dried lasagna noodles in a container large enough to hold the noodles, length wise, add warm salted water. Add the noodles, one at a time, and let sit until the noodles are just soft. If you are going to use the no cook variety eliminate this step.

    If you are going to use the standard variety of eggplant cut them into slices ⅜ inch thick. If you are going to use another variety such as Japanese, cut them into the same thickness but on the diagonal. Put a layer of paper towels on a cookie sheet or sheet pan, liberally salt one side of the slices, place salt side down on the paper then liberally salt the other side and cover with more paper towels. Place a second cookie sheet or sheet pan on top and weight down with a can of tomatoes. Do the same thing with the zucchini. “Why am I doing this?” you query. By salting these vegetables you take some of the bitterness and extra liquid out of them so that your final product will not be too runny. After about 15 minutes check the vegetables. If the paper towels are thoroughly soaked, enough moisture has been removed.

    In the interim place ricotta cheese in a bowl stir well to loosen, chiffonade the basil and mix ½ into the cheese, set aside. Once the Bechamel is cooked, let cool and mix the other ½ into the sauce. Do the same with the fresh oregano leaves. Slice the mushrooms into ¼” thick pieces, set aside. This next step can be skipped however it does add a little extra flavor to the dish. Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold the eggplant in a single layer. Lightly dust each slice with flour and sear well on both sides, you might need to do this in batches.

    Now that all the prep work is done it’s time to assemble the dish.

    Lightly oil a lasagna pan, put one cup of crushed tomato including the juice on the bottom. Place a layer of noodles on top of the tomatoes. Put another cup of tomatoes on top then a layer of eggplant then bechamel then mushrooms on top then a layer of noodles. Put another cup of tomatoes on top, then add zucchini slices then ricotta cheese then more tomatoes. Reserve two cups of tomatoes. Continue layering in the same rotation until all of the ingredients are gone finishing with the reserved tomato. Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil making sure that it’s sealed completely so as not to let any steam escape. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for approximately 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

    Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes, this will allow the cheeses to reset and become easier to slice and serve. You can get 12 servings out by dividing the pan into four sections length wise and three sections width wise. This lasagna freezes well just let it cool completely then wrap each portion in plastic wrap and place into a freezer bag. This way you can determine how many portions to that for the next meal.

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