Chicken-Ham Lasagna

I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but I did recently vow to myself that I would cook more often this year. It’s so much less expensive than always ordering take-out, and it’s much better for us.

So to vary up my usual standards, I’ve been working my way through the Jan./Feb. 2006 issue of Cooking Light. I really love this magazine, but I never actually cooked many of the recipes from it until now. Mainly because I wasn’t cooking very often. So far, I’ve prepared 3 of the dishes in this issue, and they were all fantastic. If Scott says, “You should make this again,” then I know I have a winner.

Last night, I made the Chicken-Ham Lasagna. Alex was a little skeptical, because it doesn’t use any tomato sauce. I think it would more properly be called a white lasagna, so as not to disappoint people who are expecting a more traditional dish. It came out beautifully, and was pretty simple to prepare. My only complaint is that 3 no-boil lasagna noodles do not adequately cover a 9×13 baking dish. Next time, I’ll break a few noodles up to fully cover the dish.

A lot of people on the Cooking Light site complained that this dish is bland. I couldn’t disagree more! The flavor is definitely more delicate than regular lasagna, but the ham and parmesan pack lots of flavor. I certainly wouldn’t add hot sauce or worcestershire sauce, as some readers did. Blech!

2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces, divided
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Cooking spray
12 no-cook lasagna noodles (8 ounces), divided
8 ounces thinly sliced 96% fat-free deli ham, chopped, divided
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place broth and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Add chicken; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside.

Combine milk, flour, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl; stir well with a whisk until smooth. Add milk mixture to broth in pan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup cheese and parsley, stirring until cheese melts.

Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over sauce. Spoon 3/4 cup sauce evenly over noodles. Top evenly with one-third ham and one-third chicken. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Cover with foil very lightly coated with cooking spray; bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove and discard foil; bake 10 minutes or until the cheese lightly browns. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Wine note: With a cue from the dish’s overall unfussy character, the ideal wine needs to be inexpensive and uncomplicated. One of my favorite “comfort wines” to go with a comfort food like this is Australian shiraz. Annie’s Lane Shiraz 2002 from Australia’s Clare Valley ($15) is a simple blast of berriness with a soft texture. -Karen MacNeil

Yield: 8 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 260(24% from fat); FAT 7g (sat 3.7g,mono 2g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 28.9g; CHOLESTEROL 57mg; CALCIUM 295mg; SODIUM 740mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 1.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18g

Courtney A. Sparks
Cooking Light, JANUARY 2006

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