I am on a 2-week cleanse to scrub out all the comestible indecencies I put in myself while in Ireland. But don’t panic! I won’t bore you with the long list of things that I can’t have for 2 weeks. Instead, I am sharing with you our last supper, as it were. You see, today I start the real hard slog of no-anything that tastes good. So last night I made lasagnas with a cream and leek sauce with lashings of Parmigiano Reggiano. Wicked never tasted so good.
To expedite things, I don’t go the roux-plus-milk=white sauce route. Instead, I saute leeks, add cream and vegetable stock and reduce it for 5 minutes. The resulting sauce is plenty thick, especially since I layer it with Ronzoni no-boil noodles. Those no-boil lasagna sheets tend to suck up quite a bit of moisture from the sauce, so everything works out fine without fussing with a flour, butter, milk, and a whisk.
For Mr. Tofu, my vegetarian husband, I saute some wild mushrooms and layer them into his lasagna. For mine, sauteed chicken breast sprinkled with Penzey’s Lemon Pepper is a nice meaty touch. The whole enterprise is surprisingly easy to assemble, but the results taste like you spent hours. Try it and let me know what you think. It will be grand to read about real food as I’m wasting away on brown rice and lightly sauteed vegetables. I promise the next post will be witty and clever. I had no idea how much caffeine was responsible for me ability to writes (sic)…
Quick and Creamy Lasagnas for Two
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces wild mushrooms (I used cardoncello), chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup mild vegetable or mushroom stock
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 ounces chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
6 Ronzoni “oven-ready” lasagna noodles
1/2 ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook without stirring for 1 minute. Add 2 teaspoons of thyme, stir, and continue to cook until mushrooms are browned and have given off their liquid, about 3 minutes. Scrape mushrooms out into a small bowl and set aside.
Return pan to stove. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, without allowing them to brown, until they are limp, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced slightly, 5 minutes. Add nutmeg and season sparingly with salt (keep in mind the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese will add salt, too).
While the sauce is reducing, prepare the chicken. Toss meat with lemon pepper and a pinch of salt. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute, without stirring, until browned on 1 side, about 3 minutes. Turn with tongs and turn off heat.
Break lasagna sheets so they fit into 2 small oven-proof dishes. (It’s okay if some break into smaller shards, you can still use them to fill in any odd spaces.) Ladle 3 to 4 tablespoons of the cream sauce into the dishes. Top with a pasta sheet, more sauce, half of the mushrooms or chicken, the ricotta, and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat with another pasta sheet, sauce and Parm cheese. Then place the last sheets of pasta on top, finish with the remaining cream sauce, mushrooms or chicken and Parm cheese. Place on a cookie sheet and bake until bubbly around edges, 45 minutes.