So this week I participated in a "super secret" in-home product testing for some oven-ready lasagna noodles. The marketing research company provided the noodles but I had to provide the rest of the ingredients. They included a recipe but we could pick any recipe that we wanted.
I will confess that I signed up for the experience only because I thought I'd be getting a free dinner out of it, not just the noodles, LOL. Yes, I am that cheap, err frugal. So when faced with having to buy the necessary ingredients, my main goal was to spend as little as possible. However, I didn't have any ricotta, red sauce, mozzarella or shredded parmesan. That free lasagna was going to cost me a pretty penny!
So I headed to the Barilla website (my usual brand of lasagna noodles, before discovering that Aldi sometimes carries oven-ready lasagna noodles, is Barilla) to find a recipe and found this one: Barilla-Oven Ready Lasagna with Chicken & Spinach.
However, I made several modifications that I will detail here:
1) I didn't have any fresh spinach and in my experience canned spinach leaves work just as well and are cheaper. However, when I compared leaf spinach with other canned greens at Save A Lot, I was shocked to see how much sodium was in a can of leaf spinach (380 mg per half cup) as opposed to the sodium content of turnip greens (25 mg per half cup) so I bought the turnip greens instead. As a bonus, they were slightly cheaper as well ($0.69 a can)! Feel free to substitute any other greens or use fresh spinach as per the Barilla recipe.
2) Instead of buying Parmigiano-Reggiano, I bought a 6 oz tub of shredded parmesan ($2.69 at Save A Lot)
3) I used Gold'n Plump ground chicken that I had bought on clearance at SuperTarget and not the ground chicken breast the recipe specified. You could substitute ground turkey.
4) Their instructions for the béchamel sauce are vague. I looked up a recipe for béchamel sauce, which said to cook the roux for 7 minutes (and not just 1 like in the Barilla recipe) and then to cook the whole mixture for 10 minutes, whisking it the whole time. I had already mixed my 1-minute roux to the milk but I did cook it for 10 minutes. I didn't think it would work because it looked very liquid, still, for most of the cooking time, but it absolutely turned into delicious béchamel sauce at the end so have faith! I also added 1/4 tsp of nutmeg to the sauce. It doesn't feature in the Barilla recipe but it is traditional to add nutmeg to béchamel and honestly, it tasted delicious with it.
5) the Barilla recipe states to pour 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture per layer. This is wrong! You should pour 1/4 recipe of the chicken mixture per layer, so you'll have 4 layers of chicken mixture. You probably will have noodles leftovers in your package.
6) The recipe states it is for 5 people. I used a 10x13 Pyrex dish and ended up with 8 very healthy portions.
My version of it ended up being very delicious and I would definitely make it again!
So on to the recipe as I made it. Click here for a printable version if you would like to print it to save it.
GROUND CHICKEN AND TURNIP GREENS LASAGNA
- 1 box oven-ready lasagna
- 5 cups whole milk
- 5 tbsp butter
- 5 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 can turnip greens, drained (not seasoned, try to get the least amount of sodium possible)
- salt and pepper to taste (I didn't add, I figured we would add after cooking if needed and it didn't need it at all!)
- 6 oz container shredded parmesan
To prepare the béchamel sauce:
- In a medium saucepan, bring milk to a simmer (I did that on medium high).
- Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in the flour to form a roux. Cook for at least 1 minute and up to 7 minutes over low temperature. (I cooked mine only for 1 minute and the recipe was fine but next time I'll try cooking it the 7 minutes to see if it makes a difference).
- Once the milk is simmering, add the milk to the roux and whisk constantly for 10 minutes over medium high to high heat. The sauce will become thicker at the end. Add 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and mix well.
To prepare the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 400 F (204C).
- In a large skillet, sauté garlic in EVOO for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
- Add ground chicken and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.
- Add the turnip greens and heat up for 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside to cool down.
- In a 10 x 13 " baking pan (or thereabout), pour 1 ladle of béchamel sauce and spread over the bottom of the pan. Top with 3 sheets of lasagna noodles.
- Top the lasagna sheets with another ladle of sauce, and then 1/4 recipe of the chicken/turnip greens mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Repeat until you have used up all the ground chicken. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese over the last layer.
- Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove foil and let the top brown for about 5 minutes.
I hope you enjoy it!