May 4, 2006

Lasagna...Part 2, avec Deux Parts

I have another 2 recipes for you here, bundled together with love. This past month I've made 2 different lasagnas. As you know from a previous post, it's what I make when I'm feeling only slightly creative or when I want to make something I can do without thinking too hard about it. But, it turns out that I will definitely make both of these again!

The first is a Black Bean Lasagna, a dish I had years ago in Canada at Paul's grandparent's vacation home. I remember this as being very tasty, and I think this recipe is pretty close. You know, everything tastes better when you're on vacation, especially sitting on the deck of a house built on its own island that one can only approach by boat...Heaven! Anyway, I thought I would see if I could recall it enough to make my own version.

The next lasagna is a Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke version
sans tomato sauce. Spinach and artichoke hearts being 2 of my favorite things, this lasagna lets me replicate my beloved Spinach Artichoke dip without admitting that that's what I'm really trying to do. (I'm not allowed to make this dip for us again until 2007, but I can bring it to parties where I'm not as likely to be found standing over the bowl devouring it with a spoon.)

First, the Black Bean Lasagna. (Susan, you'll have to let me know if I'm anywhere close.) This was really delicious and even better the next day. I'd suggest making the whole thing the day before, or maybe just the sauce. Don't let this not-completely mexican, not truly italian combo scare you. I promise you it's super bon.

9 no-boil lasagna noodles

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup parmasan, grated
1 egg

1/2 cup chopped cilantro/fresh coriander, divided
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes (not sauce)
1 cup salsa
1 onion, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
dash of Tabasco

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, mozzerella or smoked cheddar would be great
optional: 1 cup cooked spinach, thawed if using frozen

Saute the onion and red pepper over medium heat until softened. Add garlic, cumin and chili powder to the pan. Stir another 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and salsa. Let this mixture simmer 15 minutes or so. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding hot sauce, salt or pepper as needed. Mix in the cilantro, as well.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan and egg. I usually add some fresh ground pepper to this mixture, too. Set aside.

Place a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom of a small rectangular baking dish (I use something about 7x11, so adjust quantities to fit your pan). Place 3 lasagna sheets in a single layer. Cover the pasta with the ricotta mixture, sprinkle 1/2 the black beans (and/or spinach) over this, then top with a small amount of the sauce. Place 3 more lasagna sheets on top of this and repeat layers. Save enough tomato sauce to cover the top. Sprinkle Mozzerella or Monterey Jack over the top. Bake at 200 degrees C/400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.
Next is my "not-spinach-artichoke-dip," Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna with Chicken! It's a great use for leftover chicken and fresh basil, and uses a nice amount of garlic.

Filling 1:
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, chopped
2 shallots (or 1 small onion is fine), chopped
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Filling 2:
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg (sometimes I skip this; you can add a little cottage cheese, fromage blanc if you have some around to thin it out a bit)
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Bechamel Sauce:
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups milk, heated on stovetop or microwave
salt and pepper
grated nutmeg
paprika, optional
1/3 cup grated parmesan, optional

Saute the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Stir in the spinach, artichokes and chicken and heat through. Remove from heat.

In a small mixing bowl, combing the ricotta, egg, parmesan and chopped basil leaves. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Cook this mixture for 3-4 minutes. Slowly pour in the warm milk while you whisk aggresively to avoid lumps. Turn the heat up to medium high and continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. If the mixture is too thick, add in more milk. If it is too thin, make a slurry with another tbsp of flour combined with a few tbsp of cold milk. Drizzle this into the bechamel sauce and bring to a boil while stirring. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika. Taste and add more salt if needed. I also add about 1/3 cup grated parmesan most of the time for a bit more flavor.

Layer the lasagna as usual, topping with the bechamel sauce and grated gruyère or comté cheese (or mozzerella).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have made this recipie twice now - DELICIOUS - followed the instructions to the T - perfect both times - THANK YOU