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Monday, April 1, 2019

White Chicken Caprese Lasagna

I've always been scared of making lasagna. Every time I've ever made it, it's either been too dry or too watery. Half the time the noodles don't get cooked. Even if it ever had turned out for me before this moment, I would have fully expected it to just look like a big, hot, sloppy mess when I tried to photograph it. 

Well, considering that lasagna is one of the most delicious comfort foods ever, I decided to persevere through my fear. Now, after having crunched down several hundred pans of hard noodles, here I am, with the PERFECT lasagna. 

Yes, to me the most perfect lasagna is white lasagna (though I would never say no to a good classic red lasagna either). Especially if it's loaded with cheese and chicken, fresh basil and perfectly burst tomatoes, and topped with a sweet balsamic reduction.

Of course, the best part about lasagna is that even though it is sort of a lot of work to make, it makes a ton of food. I put half of this pan in the freezer for us to have another time because I want to have some meals ready to go when this new baby is born THIS MONTH. At least I hope it's this month. My due date is April 30th, and I'm really hoping I don't have to go a week past my due date with a 9 1/2 pound baby again. Cross your fingers for me!

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    • White Chicken Caprese Lasagna

    • Ingredients for Ricotta Layer:

    • 2 lbs ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

    • Ingredients for Sauce:

    • 1/2 stick butter
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or all-purpose gluten free flour mix like this one)
    • 4 cups milk (I used whole)
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
    • 2 cups packed spinach
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

    • Ingredients for layering:

    • 1 1/2 cups more mozzarella 
    • 1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles (you can use these gluten free ones)
    • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
    • Halved cherry tomatoes (about 20)
    • More fresh basil for garnish
    • Balsamic glaze (buy here, or you can make your own by simmering balsamic vinegar until it has reduced thickened)

    • Directions:

    • Combine all of the ingredients for the ricotta layer and set aside. 

    • For the sauce, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking well as you add it. Add the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring the whole time. 
    • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the mozzarella, spinach, salt, pepper, and basil. Continue cooking until the cheese is melted and the spinach is wilted. Set aside. 

    • To assemble:

    • Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
    • Place a couple ladles of sauce in the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan. Top with a layer of noodles followed by 1/3 of the ricotta mixture followed by 1/3 of the chopped chicken followed by 1/3 of the remaining sauce mixture. Continue layering in this pattern, ending with sauce (you should have sauce, noodles, ricotta, chicken, sauce, noodles, ricotta, chicken, sauce, noodles, ricotta, chicken, sauce). Top with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and then scatter on the halved cherry tomatoes. 
    • Bake for about 45 minutes (I like to put the 9x13 pan on a cookie sheet in the oven, just in case it overflows at all). If the top browns before the 45 minutes are up, just cover it with a sheet of tin foil for the rest of the time. 

    • Allow to cool about 10-20 minutes before serving. Top with fresh basil and balsamic glaze.