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Lasagna is a fun and functional dish and there are delicious variations on classic recipes.
For example, chicken and cheese lasagna. I’m not a big fan of chicken in lasagna so I substituted ground beef and a few other elements to make it suit my personal taste. Yet another variation.
With cooking you often can adapt a recipe to make it what you want. With baking, this isn’t always an option because measurements and ingredients used in baking are precise and if you change them too much your goodies might not bake well.
What’s good about the lasagna dish is it’s easy to make. Mix all filling ingredients together — meat, ricotta and other cheeses —then scoop some onto the cooked lasagna noodles and roll each one up like a jelly roll to make little individual lasagnas.
Making extra and freezing it is a great idea. You can use it for a future meal or share it with a friend. Frozen dishes such as this are perfect to take to families who have just had a new baby. In the beginning, people bring over food to help but eventually that stops and the new mom is still frazzled for time. So, instead of taking a dish they can eat immediately, take something they can keep in the freezer and pull out when needed.
The fun part of lasagna is you can make it with pretty much anything. While I like using beef, you can use chicken, spinach or any other vegetable and just plain cheese. You also can change cheeses or use a cheese sauce instead of a tomato-based sauce. It’s basically whatever you want to use in-between layers — or rolls — of noodles and cheese.
Another beloved Italian dish is pasta with made alfredo sauce. Once you’ve made some from scratch, you won’t like the kind from a jar anymore.
Tyler Florence’s recipe on the Food Network website is a simple one. It’s great with whole-wheat penne pasta. By using the whole-wheat pasta, you might con yourself into thinking the dish is healthier, even though the creamy cheese sauce is mostly heavy whipping cream and a stick of butter.
Either of these dishes with a salad and a nice slice of warm, tasty bread make an Italian meal that’s not complicated.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicken and cheese lasagna rolls
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (can substitute 1 pound ground beef)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (can substitute mozzarella)
8 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups spaghetti sauce
In medium bowl, combine chicken, cheeses, milk and pepper. Spread 1/2 cup mixture on each lasagna noodle and roll jelly-roll fashion. In a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce. Arrange lasagna rolls, seam-side down in sauce in baking dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot. Serve, if desired, with additional Parmesan cheese.
Cook’s notes: You can use additional shredded Italian cheese to top the lasagna rolls and add Italian seasoning to the filling. In the ground beef mixture I added some spaghetti sauce so the meat mixture would not be dry. Baking uncovered for the last five minutes will brown cheese on top.
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep sauté pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir. Season with freshly cracked black pepper. In a large stockpot, cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. Quickly drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan, gently toss the noodles to coat in the alfredo. Transfer pasta to a warm serving bowl. Top with more grated cheese and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.