……And it’s already the weekend again, can you believe that? Craziness!
Our days are finally starting to get longer here and I’m so glad about it. It means more hours of light, YAY!, but then it also mean bugs, not so yay. Definitely more nay actually, but there’s no question I’d take it in trade for my sunlight.
I know for most of you this time of year means Fall time is right around the corner. Man, I wish I could say that were true for me, I miss autumn being at the end of the year so much. Regardless of season though, the last three months of the year are my absolute favorite! Does it seem weird to you guys that I’m planning Fall and Christmas inspired recipes already? I think being a food blogger has rewired my brain to start thinking a few months ahead of everything.
This year I’m going to try to keep with what I’ve done it the past and share a good amount cozy stuff despite the fact that it’s going to be getting hotter here in the Southern Hem. I’ve gotten pretty good at faking the opposite season for the most part.
Speaking of cozy stuff, I think anything with loads of melty cheese and creamy goodness all baked in one dish qualifies. That totally spells comfort food in my opinion and this lasagna’s got all that and more!
When it comes to food, I pretty much love it all but I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional lasagna. I really like it but personally I’d go for chicken over beef and creamy sauce over tomato when given the choice. Also, as much as I like using ricotta in all kinds of other stuff, I sort of prefer replacing it in my lasagna with other cheeses, not really sure why. What I do adore is rosemary.
Oh my goodness, just one smell of it can make me so happy! I love that it can smell completely like the Holiday season when you mix it with other wintery flavors, but at the same time it can go the opposite direction, all Mediterranean and summery, when you put it with fresh vibrant flavors like lemon. It’s perfect for taking the star role in this lasagna, that’s for sure!
So about this lasagna, one of the best things about it is it’s depth of flavor from all the different layers. I’ve been making my own chicken stock ever since my family’s farm days when we had our own chickens running around the yard. Whenever I list it in my recipes I’m using homemade. It does add just a little more time to this meal and I know homemade stock might sound daunting, but once you’ve tried it I think you’ll see how much better it is than store-bought and how simple it is too. Seriously, just throw the stuff in a pot of water and let it boil until it’s got tons of flavor, done. The stock is where you bring in the lemon and rosemary also. I secretly love that because it means no juicing and zesting lemons or chopping rosemary. See, it’s actually the lazier option.
After you make and strain the stock you simply add it to your alfredo sauce along with all its yumminess, prep a few other ingredients, and then layer everything together for, what is in my opinion, the best version of lasagna ever! It’s all a matter of personal tastes but a lot of my gang agreed that this beats a traditional lasagna all day long. I guess you’ll have to give it a try if you want to find out.
- 1 fully cooked rotisserie chicken (alternatively you can roast your own)
- 2 medium lemons, washed and quartered
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Bones and carcass from rotisserie chicken (listed above)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1(16-ounce) box lasagna noodles
- 1 medium head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Separate the meat from your chicken and place everything else in a medium pot or saucepan with lid. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces, place in a covered dish, and set aside until ready to assemble lasagna. Add the lemons, rosemary, and about 4 cups of water or a little more if needed. It should be enough water to cover everything in the pot. Place over medium-low heat and boil, partially covered, for about 45 minutes to allow the stock is nice and rich with all the flavors.
- While the stock is cooking, cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions in a separate pot until al dente. Drain and rinse in icy cold water for at least a minute then set aside.
- Place the head of cauliflower in a small pot or saucepan with lid and fill with at least one inch of water. Place over medium high heat and steam until fork-tender, 7-8 minutes. (see notes) Drain and chop or break up into small pieces with a fork and set aside.
- Whisk together the cream cheese and cream in a medium mixing bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs then add parmesan, flour, salt, and pepper. Set this mixture aside also.
- Once your stock is ready it's time to make the alfredo sauce. Strain the stock using a mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot, removing and discarding everything except the liquid. Now, using the pot you just boiled the stock in, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and golden. Whisk the flour and milk together in a small dish or cup until smooth then pour into pan and stir constantly until it becomes a thick paste then immediately pour in the stock and cream and bring to a boil. Continue stirring until the sauce just barely starts to thicken again then reduce heat to low. Whisk in parmesan, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and remove pan from heat. Measure out about 1 cup of the sauce to reserve then add the chopped chicken and cooked cauliflower to the rest and toss to coat in sauce.
- Okay, lasagna time. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and gather all your pieces (lasagna noodles, chicken and alfredo sauce mixture, reserved 1 cup alfredo sauce, cream cheese mixture, and shredded mozzarella)
- Spread about 1/3 of the chicken and alfredo sauce mixture on the bottom of a greased 13x9 or similar dimension casserole dish. Top with 1/3 of your lasagna noodles in an even layer and then 1/2 of cream cheese mixture, then sprinkle about 2/3 cup mozzarella over that. Repeat this pattern one more time then pour the remaining chicken and alfredo sauce mixture on top. Layer that with the last of the noodles then pour the reserved alfredo sauce over the top and cover pan with foil. Place the lasagna pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any sauce that leaks out then place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes until sauce is all bubbly. Remove from oven and take off the foil. Sprinkle the last 2/3 cup of mozzarella over the top and return to oven uncovered and bake for 8-10 more minutes until the cheese starts to brown on top. Remove from oven and cool for at least 5 minutes, then cut and serve hot!
Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower instead to give it more flavor. This is a great option if you have a small toaster oven. Just place the florets on a foil-lined pan and drizzle with a little oil then roast at 375 degrees F (190 C) until golden and tender.