Happy new year!
Yes, it's football time and the Super Bowl is just around the corner, but it's cheese time for me. Why? Because I have another book coming out in the Cheese Shop Mystery series: DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT, so for about a month now, everything is cheese (and possibly some wine).
By the way, starting next week, I'll be doing a book giveaway every week until the launch of my book, so check back in.
In addition to doing the PR work necessary to launch another book, I've been writing the 6th in the series and learning about a horde of new cheeses, like: Hooligan from Cato Corner or Tarentaise from Thistle Farm. I haven't tasted them all. Right now it's reading research, but I'm salivating over the descriptions on all the cheese sites I visit.
To that end, I offer you one of my favorite all-time meals, lasagna - heavy on the cheese! This one, a chicken lasagna, includes all sorts of goodies, like kale. It's high in fiber, zero fat, lots of iron and lots of vitamin K, which helps prevent against cancer.
FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 small sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup chardonnay (white wine)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
FOR THE LASAGNA
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound lasagna noodles
(*real; not no-boil) (gluten-free okay)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
2 cups kale, stems removed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
30 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup MORE chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground pepper
4 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (about 1 lb)
2 cups grated Asiago cheese
To make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large (and I mean large) skillet over medium heat; add the chicken and cook until browned. Turn every minute, for 5 minutes.
Add the chopped onion, chopped garlic, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and parsley. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to mediu low and simmer 50 minutes. Using a spoon, break up the chicken. Cook another 20 minutes, until thickened. Remove the bay leaves.
Prepare the lasagna according to the package. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook (about half what the label directs). Drain the noodles and drizzle with olive oil; set aside.
Place the kale in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add ½ cup water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until tender, about 3 minutes on high. Draing and rinse under cold water. Press out all the excess water. Stir in the eggs, ricotta, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and the extra chopped parsley. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 4-5 grinds of the pepper.
In a separate bowl, toss the Mozzarella, Asiago, and the remaining Paremsan.
Turn on oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with 1/3 of the noodles. Overlap, layering long ones first and then short ones crosswise. Cover with half of the kale-ricotta mixture. Then 2 more cups sauce. Cover with half of the Mozzarella cheese mixture.
Repeat the layers (noodles, kale-ricotta mixture, sauce, cheese).
Set on a baking sheet. (This will bubble over.)
Loosely cover with foil (you don’t want the foil to stick to the cheese). Bake 40 minutes, then uncover and bake another 25 minutes. You might want to raise the heat to 400 degrees F.
Let stand 30 minutes before serving.
*Great reheated the next day. One hour at 300 degrees F.
What is it about casseroles that they won't hold together when they are piping hot? We couldn't wait the 30 minutes "standing" time recommended. It smelled just too darned good!
REMEMBER, I'm doing a book giveaway starting NEXT WEEK, every week until launch. The books will include either your choice of the first four books in A Cheese Shop Mystery series or the first in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series.
PS INHERIT THE WORD, the second in the Cookbook Nook series, comes out in March! Hmmm. I might do giveaways through the month of February, too.
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Days of Wine and Roquefort Feb 2014, preorder here
Inherit the Word March 2014, preorder here
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