My partner for this month's Secret Recipe Club was Elizabeth of Food Ramblings. I was initially tempted by some of the delicious dessert recipes on Elizabeth's blog, especially her peanut butter-Nutella swirl cookies and her oatmeal-topped peach cobbler. But, those both had to wait once I saw this recipe for creamy chicken lasagna - I just had to make it!
I am a huge lasagna fan, as you can see from all the different ones I've posted here: ratatouille, spinach-artichoke, butternut squash-goat cheese, roasted red pepper, hearty meat, and Emilia-Romagna! This one is a great addition to that collection. It's super flavorful, and Tim and I both gave it two big thumbs up. Low fat cream cheese makes for a surprisingly creamy lasagna, while marinara sauce keeps it from feeling too rich. I love the use of chicken - it's not your typical lasagna ingredient, but it really works here and is easier to prepare than most meat sauces. If you prefer a vegetarian dish, the chicken could easily be replaced by some roasted veggies or sauteed greens. Definitely a winner - thanks, Elizabeth!
Creamy Chicken Lasagna (adapted from Runner's World, via Food Ramblings, original recipe here)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
8 ounces Neufchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese), at room temperature, divided
1/2 cup chicken broth, divided
24 ounce jar marinara sauce
8 ounce box no-boil lasagna noodles
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chicken, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 3 minutes. Then cover the pot, remove from heat, and let sit 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked through, and then allow to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking pan with oil. Set aside.
3. Chop the chicken into small cubes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dried basil, 6 ounces of the Neufchatel, and 1/4 cup of the broth. Add the chicken to the Neufchatel mixture, and stir gently to combine.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 ounces Neufchatel and 1/4 cup broth.
5. Spread 1/3 cup of the marinara in the bottom of the baking dish. Assemble the lasagna in layers: 3 noodles, a third of the chicken mixture, a quarter of the mozzarella, a third of the Romano, and finally a third of the remaining marinara sauce. Repeat until you have three layers of filling and four layers of noodles. For the last layer, top the noodles with the broth mixture from step 4 and the remaining mozzarella cheese. [I might add another layer of marinara on top next time I make this, as the top layers of noodles got a little too crispy for my taste - but this is just a personal preference thing!]
6. Spray a large piece of foil with oil, and cover the lasagna, oil-side-down. Bake 45 minutes.
7. Turn the oven to broil, remove the foil, and broil until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes (keep a close eye on the lasagna so you don't burn it!)
8. Let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.