Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chicken Florentine Lasagna - Buon Appetito!

Chicken Florentine lasagna consists of layers of curly noodles separated by a rich béchamel sauce, chicken, fresh spinach and bacon topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese

Traditionally from Bologna, Northern Italy, lasagna is one of the most commonly craved Italian dishes in homes and restaurants all around the world. Chicken Florentine lasagna consists of layers of curly noodles separated by a rich béchamel sauce, chicken, fresh spinach and bacon topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese - all baked in one delicious masterpiece of flavors!

Chicken Florentine lasagna consists of layers of curly noodles separated by a rich béchamel sauce, chicken, fresh spinach and bacon topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese

A classic béchamel sauce is the secret to a rich, moist lasagna. Flavored with garlic and pinch of nutmeg, this white sauce is rich and flagrant, excellent for layering lasagna noodles. Equal amounts of flour and butter are cooked together in thick paste after which hot milk is added and cooked until smooth and creamy. This sauce is easy and quick to prepare and very versatile.

Chicken Florentine lasagna consists of layers of curly noodles separated by a rich béchamel sauce, chicken, fresh spinach and bacon topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese

Do not be overly concerned with the long list of ingredients and steps listed to create this recipe as it can all be completed in advance and comes together quickly. Surprisingly, it involves minimal cooking as I used rotisserie chicken, fresh spinach, crispy bacon and plenty of cheese. The creamy white sauce needs to be freshly prepared along with the lasagna noodles. 
 
Chicken Florentine lasagna consists of layers of curly noodles separated by a rich béchamel sauce, chicken, fresh spinach and bacon topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese

This is a comforting, nourishing and delectable recipe that is worth making and sharing. Prepare the homemade chicken Florentine lasagna for your guest or family to enjoy and be sure to impress.

Chicken Florentine lasagna consists of layers of curly noodles separated by a rich béchamel sauce, chicken, fresh spinach and bacon topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese

Yield: 6-8 servings                               Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients for the garlic béchamel sauce:
  • 2 l (8 cups) milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • a pinch of nutmeg
Ingredients for lasagna:
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 450g (1 pound) cooked chicken breasts, diced
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 284g (10 oz) fresh spinach
  • 12 bacon strips, cooked crispy, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian sesoning
  • 1 tablespoon flat parsley, chopped
Directions:
  1. For the béchamel sauce preparation, heat the milk in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat.
  2. To a separate sauce pan, add the butter and along with the garlic, place it over medium heat.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  4. Slowly add the hot milk into the flour mixture whisking constantly to avoid lumps forming and allow to sauce to simmer for 5 minutes until thickened and smooth.
  5. Once creamy, turn off the heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Stir thoroughly to combine.
  6. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and lightly grease a 12 x 9 x 2 baking dish.
  7. Place a large pot of water over medium heat. Add the olive oil and salt and bring to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook according to the package directions. Drain and lay the noodles on a clean towel.
  8. To assemble lasagna, add a thin layer of garlic béchamel sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and spread evenly. Add 4 lasagna noodles and add a more generous layer of sauce. Sprinkle half of the cooked chicken, followed by one cup of Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Add half of the spinach and half of the chopped bacon, spreading evenly.
  9. Repeat with another layer of 4 lasagna noodles adding more sauce, the rest of the chicken, another cup of Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese, the remainder of spinach and bacon. Cover with last layer of 4 lasagna noodles.
  10. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the top noodles then sprinkle with the last cup of Parmesan cheese and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Dust with Italian seasoning.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  13. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:
  • This lasagna can be made up to a day ahead, then covered and refrigerated.
  • Uncooked, assembled lasagna can be covered and refrigerated for up to 48 hours.

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