Chicken and Mushroom White Lasagna

white lasagna
Andrew Bui

Few things are more pleasing than a melty, cheesy square of lasagna. This creamy white lasagna, made extra luxurious from a cheesy béchamel-type sauce called Mornay, is packed with chopped chicken, spinach, mushroom, and fresh herbs–and a few time-saving secrets:

Grab the no-boil noodles.

Fresh pasta will always reign supreme, but no-boil noodles are the best for imitating those thin, tender layers you get from fresh pasta. Aside from the hassle of boiling and handling hot noodles, traditional dried lasagna noodles are thicker, and layering the frilly edges can lead to dense pockets of unforgiving dryness. Simply layer in the no-boil noodles as you would traditional noodles, being mindful of any changes in shape. The noodles used here are about 6 ½” x 3” and require 6 per layer.

Take a shortcut.

An herby rotisserie chicken is the ultimate time saver here. The two breasts should yield plenty of meat for the filling. While this recipe does call for freshly grated parmesan, feel free to opt for pre-shredded, adhering to the weight measurement in the ingredients, rather than the volume.

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Yields: 12
Prep Time: 0 hours 50 mins
Total Time: 2 hours 50 mins
Ingredients
FOR THE FILLING
1 lb.

(16 oz.) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed according to package directions

2 1/2 tbsp.

olive oil

8 oz.

cremini mushrooms, chopped

1

small onion, diced

1 1/2 tsp.

kosher salt, divided

3

cloves garlic, chopped

1 lb.

whole milk ricotta

1

egg

1 tbsp.

fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp.

fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 c.

fresh parsley, chopped

FOR THE SAUCE
6 tbsp.

butter

3

cloves garlic, chopped

7 tbsp.

all-purpose flour

4 c.

whole milk, warmed

1/2 tsp.

ground nutmeg

3 c.

(4 1.2 oz.) Parmesan, freshly grated

1 tbsp.

fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp.

fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 tsp.

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

FOR ASSEMBLY
24

no-boil lasagna noodles (14 oz.)

2 c.

(12 oz.) cooked chicken, cut into 1/2" pieces

3 c.

low-moisture whole milk mozzarella

1/3 c.

Parmesan, freshly grated

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. 
  2. Make filling: Place thawed spinach in a fine-mesh strainer, and press down with a rubber spatula until all almost completely dry. Move spinach to a clean tea towel or layered paper towels, and wring all excess moisture from the spinach until completely dry.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, tossing in the oil to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and add the onions, ½ tsp of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, tossing with the mushrooms, until the onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add the drained spinach and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir until the spinach is heated through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 
  4. In a separate bowl combine the ricotta, egg, 1 tablespoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, parsley, salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
  5. Make the Mornay sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until the butter stops bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and swirl the pan,  and continue to cook the garlic for 1 minute. Add about half the flour, and whisk to combine, breaking up any lumps. Add the remaining flour and whisk until smooth and bubbling. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns light brown and begins to smell slightly toasty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. While gently whisking with one hand, slowly stream 2 cups of the warmed milk into the roux. Wish thoroughly to ensure no clumps, and stream in remaining milk while whisking. Add the nutmeg, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Once the mixture has come to a boil and thickened (about 7 minutes), remove from the heat and whisk in Parmesan until smooth. Add chopped herbs, salt, and season to taste with black pepper.
  7. Assemble lasagna: Mix the cooled spinach mixture with the ricotta mixture until evenly combined.In a 13"-x-9" baking  dish, assemble the lasagna in the following layers: Start with 1 cup of the Mornay sauce. Spread all over the bottom of the pan, covering completely to the edges. Next, layer 6 no-boil noodles over the sauce, overlapping about ½” where necessary. (The long edge of the noodle should align with the long edge of the pan. If your pan has rounded edges, the firm noodles may not fit as neatly into the pan. To help the fit, and reduce unnecessary overlap, gently snap off a small corner of the noodle that would fit into the corner of the pan.)
  8. Next, spread 1½ cups of the ricotta-spinach mixture onto the noodles, covering the noodles completely so that it has the moisture it needs to cook through. Add ⅔ cup of cooked chicken, and finish the layer with ⅔ cup of mozzarella. Repeat the layers twice, starting with the sauce and ending with the ⅔ cup of mozzarella cheese. For the top layer of lasagna, spread 1 cup of sauce on top of the last layer’s mozzarella. Cover with 6 no-boil noodles, and top with 1 cup of mozzarella and ⅓ cup of Parmesan.
  9. Lightly grease one side of a large piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the lasagna tightly in two layers of foil, with the greased foil facing the lasagna. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

To store lasagna, remove servings from the baking dish or pan and store in the refrigerator in an airtight resealable container for 3 to 4 days. OR! Individually wrap servings in plastic wrap, place in a zip top gallon freezer bag in a single layer, and freeze for up to 3 months.

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Andrew Bui

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