White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Have I mentioned I love food?

Hi. I love food. Nice to meet you.

And in my quest for food and recipes that rock my world and that demand I share them with you, I’m always trying out or creating new recipes. It’s fun. For me.

But I can always tell when the fam is sick and tired of having a food-blogger for a mother-slash-wife because the disturbance in the force goes something like this: “for all that is good and righteous, please let it be taco night.”

This white chicken and spinach lasagna was at first an experiment that had my family feeling a bit uneasy and skeptical since they had recently suffered through a 2-week bout of new recipes each night, but it turned into an epic summer of eating this many, many times.

I even froze a quadruple batch, packed it up and traveled across the country to serve at Brian’s family reunion. We’ve (ok, I’ve) made it for company, eaten it just the seven of us for Sunday dinners, and given it out as a freezer meal to friends. This lasagna has become one with our family.

The reason I know it’s a winner is just last week after trying the 48th version of a slow cooker chicken tandoori recipe that pretty much failed into a soupy, gloppy, curdled mess (yummy, I know), I heard: “I just wish mom would make that white lasagna stuff again, then we wouldn’t get in trouble for making gagging noises at the table.”

Yep, sure sign of a winner, winner lasagna dinner.

The fact that it calls for lots of divine cheese is mitigated by the mounds of fresh spinach pressed in between each layer. It has become my latest lasagna obsession and I’m so happy to add it to my lasagna arsenal.

Steamed veggie or this Zucchini Mozzarella Medley
Store-bought French Bread (or for homemade this French Bread)
Fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Creamy Swiss Cheese Chicken Bake
Two Years Ago: Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago: Healthy and Delicious {Refrigerator} Bran Muffins

White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

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Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Lasagna:

  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups), reserve 1/4 cup for the top of the lasagna
  • 2 (9-ounces each) packages baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9X13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the flour and let it cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the chicken broth and milk while whisking vigorously. Continue cooking and stirring for 4-5 minutes until the mixture simmers and thickens. Stir in the basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  4. To assemble, spread about 1 to 1 1/2 cups sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 3 no-boil noodles on top and dollop with 1/2 of the ricotta. No need to spread the ricotta out into an even layer, although you can press it down a bit, just spoon it across. Add half of the chicken on top of the ricotta.
  5. Layer on 1/2 of the chopped spinach. It will seem like a lot but just spread it evenly – it will cook down while baking. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese (don’t forget to take out 1/4 cup of the Parmesan for sprinkling across the top!).
  6. Place 3 noodles over the top, gently pressing down to compress the layers below. Spread 1/2 of the remaining sauce over the top. Repeat the layers again (remaining ricotta, chicken, spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan).
  7. Place the last 3 noodles over the top, pressing down again. Spread the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with reserved Parmesan cheese.
  8. Cover the baking dish with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Notes:

Keep in mind that the recipe calls for cooked chicken so plan ahead (or use this method). If you are wondering about using regular lasagna noodles (the kind that need to be boiled), you can definitely try it. I always use no-boil lasagna noodles and adapted the sauce ingredients to account for that fact so I can’t guarantee how regular lasagna noodles will work. Also, don’t forget to reserve 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese for the top! Finally (I promise this is the last thing), this lasagna can be made ahead of time up to a day and refrigerated – just add about 15 minutes onto the covered baking time. It can also be frozen; bake for an hour and 15 minutes, uncover and bake 30-45 minutes until cooked through.

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Recipe Source: inspired by this recipe at allrecipes (changed up the method, cut butter in half, used oven-ready noodles, altered the sauce broth/milk amounts, used fresh spinach instead of frozen, etc.)