After a laid back kick off your boots and chill kind of day we had friends for dinner. Our Santa Fe buddies Joey and Will drove north to our little casita tucked into the pinon dotted hills near Ojo Caliente. I made a recipe that's an old family favorite- since they've become like family, after all. Sometimes the best family is the family we choose with our heart.
And after all, what family doesn't love a good lasagna?
|Ready for the oven- garlic chicken lasagna.|
Gluten-Free Garlic Chicken Lasagna Recipe
This basic recipe can be tailored to your taste. Use your favorite veggies and herbs. We use Tinkyada Pasta Joy brown rice lasagna noodles. These make a surprisingly light lasagna [brown rice noodles are much less heavy than wheat based noodles].
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 each: red, green, and yellow bell pepper, cored, diced or sliced thin
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups chopped Portobello mushrooms
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A pinch or two of dried or fresh herbs - basil, thyme, oregano, mint
Pinches of nutmeg
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
3 chicken breasts, cooked [I simmered mine in chicken broth with several whole cloves of garlic, peeled]
3 1/2 - 4 cups homemade marinara sauce (or use a 25.5 oz. jar Muir Glen red pasta sauce thinned with a broth or wine, and a goodly amount of balsamic vinegar)
1 box brown rice lasagna noodles, such as Tinkyada Pasta Joy* see Cook's Notes about cooked vs. uncooked
15 oz. small curd cottage cheese or ricotta
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. shredded cheddar
4 oz. grated Parmesan
1 organic egg, lightly beaten
1 dash grated nutmeg
4 oz. feta or goat cheese for topping- optional
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of an 11 x 13-inch lasagna-style baking dish.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the peppers, spinach, garlic, onion and mushrooms; stir for a minute or two. Lower the heat and add the balsamic vinegar and herbs; season with nutmeg, sea salt and pepper; stir and cook for five minutes; add the broth. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced and the veggies are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. [Your kitchen will smell absolutely divine.]
When the veggies are cooked, remove the pan from heat and stir in the cooked chicken pieces. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cheeses with one beaten egg and a dash of nutmeg. You can add some finely chopped parsley if you like.
Spoon 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange one third of the lasagna noodles in the bottom.
Cover evenly with the veggie-chicken mixture, pressing down with a spatula to make a dense, compact layer. Spoon a little sauce over the layer.
Top with one third more of the lasagna noodles, and press down.
Spread the cheese mixture in an even layer. Top with the remaining lasagna noodles, and press firmly.
Cover with the remaining sauce, allowing the sauce to seep in and around the sides of the dish.
If you are topping the lasagna with more cheese, break apart the feta cheese and scatter it all over the top of the lasagna - not too small or crumbly; you don't want it to melt and disappear into the red sauce. Add a sprinkle of herbs, if you like.
Cover the lasagna loosely with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lasagna is hot and bubbling, and the noodles are fork-tender.
Allow the baked lasagna to sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving (this allows it to settle, and makes it easier to slice and serve).
Makes about six generous servings.
I have made this lasagna using par-boiled noodles and uncooked noodles. Uncooked saves time- and there was no discernible difference, in our opinion.
One tip: uncooked noodles work best if there is plenty of sauce to simmer the noodles.
Because I am at high altitude now, I partially pre-cooked my noodles, adding a clove of garlic and some chicken bouillon to the pasta water for added flavor.