I received a cheese making kit from my in-laws for Christmas and tried it out for the first time today. I made my own ricotta, completely from scratch, using fresh unhomogenised milk from the local dairy. In planning to make this though, I was thinking, great, but what do I make with it. The natural conclusion had to be lasagne, but making my own ricotta, I wanted the flavour of the ricotta to get a chance to shine, and felt that in a traditional lasagne, that doesn't happen. Ricotta is an important component but it doesn't stand out. This being the case, I spent a couple of days musing and came up with a white lasagne recipe that I hoped would allow that to happen, and I am pleased to say that it did. The ricotta definitely came through and had a beautiful creamy flavour, while the whole dish was savoury and moreish and satisfyingly rich without being heavy. I also used the left over whey from making the ricotta as my cooking liquid for the chicken and spinach "sauce", and stuck with butter so the richness is all from dairy fats (a lacto free meal this is not). If you don't happen to have whey hanging around, then just use chicken stock. The chicken (and here is a pretty bit of meal planning) was the left over roast chicken from last night's dinner. It could easily be made either gluten free or keto friendly by omitting the noodles. I used them and enjoyed them, but the courgette slices could do just as well on their own. So here it is: white lasagne.
For the sauce:
2 - 2 1/2 c shredded chicken, precooked (either roast leftovers or from somewhere else)
5-6 cloves garlic
3 tbsp butter
4 big cubes of frozen spinach or 4 handfuls of fresh (given the season I used frozen)
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp rosemary
1 1/2-2 c whey (or chicken stock)
Salt and pepper
For the layers:
2 courgettes, thinly sliced along their length, salted and rinsed
lasagne sheets (I used spinach ones, non home made this time I'm afraid)
2 c grated mild cheese (I used raclette as that is what I had on hand. Mozzarella would obviously work beautifully too)
1 tbsp melted butter
2 c ricotta, wet enough to be spreadable
1 tomato, sliced
1) Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions SLOWLY over low heat (the butter will want to brown quickly otherwise). Add garlic and cook until onions are translucent.
2) Add chicken, spinach and herbs and stir, cooking for a few minutes then add the cooking liquid, a little at a time (you don't want it too wet! Take it a bit at a time and stop when you feel it is moist but not wet).
3) Brush a lasagne pan or an oven proof dish with melted butter. Layer the courgettes, then some of the chicken mixture, some lasagne sheets, melted butter brushed over the noodles (if you want it rich and decadent, otherwise skip this step), then ricotta and a sprinkling of cheese. (I left my ricotta sheets uncooked. As long as everything is moist enough they will cook in the oven). Repeat 2-3 times depending on your dish size. End with ricotta and melted cheese.
4) Top with sliced tomato and bake at 180°C for 45 minutes. I covered mine for the first 30 minutes, then uncovered for the last 15 minutes.
It came out a little wet (I was scared, trying something new, that it would be too dry, and overcompensated!), but this was actually a blessing when reheating it as it was then no longer wet but moist and juicy. Otherwise absolutely beauteous though! Rich and creamy, but with firm flavour from the herbs and garlic, tender, but with some bite. Aside from cutting a little liquid, this is a keeper!