I have always loved lasagnas. I don’t know what it is about layered dishes and sweets that I enjoy so much, besides the fact that dismantling them seems like the closest acceptable thing to playing with your food. Mama’s meat and cheese lasagna is pretty amazing too. I was one of those spoiled kids in college who would get overnight packages with all sorts of perishable goodies. Once a semester, that happened to be a rock frozen homemade lasagna.
My “usual” lasagnas layer homemade meat sauce, a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses, and defrosted frozen spinach sandwiched between the lasagna noodles. After the refrigerator incident, and now especially that hurricane season has started, every weekend becomes one of those ‘clean out your fridge’ missions to have just enough perishable food in the house. I had been toying with making creamed collard greens out of a large pack I got at the farmers market and that, along with the contents of my fridge at the time, inspired me to switch up the flavors of my usual lasagna.
This particular lasagna was very easy to put together. I prepared the bechamel while the chicken poached, and used the resulting broth to braise the collard greens and soften the lasagna noodles (I do not boil them before baking).
Poached Chicken and Collard Greens
- 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 green onion, bruised
- 1 garlic clove (smashed)
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 springs thyme
- 4 black peppercorns
- salt to taste
In a shallow 3 quart sautee pan, place all the spices and the chicken and cover with water. Poach chicken for about 30 minutes over medium heat until cooked thoroughly. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and shred with two forks. Spoon some of the resulting broth over it and set aside. Take about half a pound of young tender collard greens (seven or eight large leaves) and poach, covered, until tender. Remove the greens, squeeze or spin out the excess liquid, and chop into smaller pieces.
Shallot Bechamel Sauce
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- Grated nutmeg to taste (optional)
In a medium saucepan sweat the shallots in the butter for 3 to 5 minutes over medium or medium low heat. Carefully warm the milk in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and set aside. When the shallots are translucent, add the flour and cook for about two minutes, until the flour begins to get a bit of color (blonde roux level). Slowly stream in the milk, whisking the roux in. Bring up the sauce to a boil until it thickens to your liking. Season with salt, white pepper, and grated nutmeg and set aside.
This is a suggested amount of sauce because I didn’t want to completely drown the chicken and greens in it, but if you like your lasagnas creamier, by all means increase it by an extra half or full cup.
- 1 loaf pan
- 6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, snapped to fit (you may also use regular noodles)
- Shredded chicken
- Shallot bechamel sauce
- Grated Parmesan Cheese to taste
- Chopped braised collard greens