Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Community Lunch Lasagne

When it comes to food and cooking for others, running out is NEVER an option. If there is a fault in this category, it is that we tend to over-do it. So, when we volunteered to help out with food for the Community Lunch after church this last week, we aimed high...

... top of this mountain of twenty loaves of garlic bread, high.
It started with us taking six pans for making lasagne; three medium and three gigantic. We decided that the three smaller ones would be standard lasagne; tomato sauce, beef, cheese, spinach, and noodles.

For the three larger pans however, we had different plans. Non-Italian plans. Vegetarian plans. Butter chicken plans. Yes, I said curry.

Due to overwhelming demand for the recipes, I am here to share the yummy!

RECIPE: Vegetarian Lasagne 
(makes one extra-large pan full)

1 tbsp butter
various mushrooms (4 packages or little paper bags), chopped
3 red onions, chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 large package of spinach
500 g ricotta
1/2 package of oven-ready lasagne noodles
500 g mozzarella, shredded

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 head of garlic, minced
2 cups milk
1 package goat cheese (454g / 1 lb)

> using a large pot, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat and throw in the chopped mushrooms and onions; stir until all are soft and cooked
> meanwhile, steam and drain the spinach, pressing out much of the excess water
> also meanwhile, prepare the quinoa: 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup water; in a small pot, bring to a boil, turn to low, clamp on a lid; after 20 minutes turn off the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork

> to make the cheese sauce, put the butter and flour into a saucepan (frying pan) and mix together over medium heat for 2 minutes to toast the flour so it does not taste raw
> add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes
> pour in the milk and bring to a gentle simmer where the sauce thickens
> turn off the heat and add the goat cheese, stirring until combined

> from the bottom up, layer the following in very thin layers:
     - mushrooms & onions
     - pasta
     - spinach
     - ricotta
     - quinoa
     - cheese sauce

Repeat so there two or three full layers of the above.  Finish with a final layer of pasta, covered in a lot of shredded mozzarella.

Bake at 325ºF (170ºC) for 45 minutes - enjoy!

RECIPE: Butter Chicken Lasagne

Question: Do you want to make the butter chicken sauce from scratch or from a package? If it's from a package, you can skip straight to "Ingredients 2" and "Method 2". If you are cooking the sauce from scratch, get ready for some fun! We found this amazing recipe in Vikram Vij's excellent cookbook "Vij's At Home: Relax, Honey". Totally worth buying; it was at Costco for around $25.

Ingredients 1: Butter Chicken
1.5 kg (3.3 lb) boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups whipping cream

This is my large pot, full of butter chicken sauce - I multiplied the above recipe by 4!!

Method 1: Butter Chicken
> cook the chicken thighs and set aside; if they are not already chopped into bite-sized pieces, do so after cooking
> in a large pot, sauté the garlic in the oil for 2 minutes
> add the tomato paste and continue cooking over medium heat for another 2-4 minutes
> add in all the spices & salt and stir for another few minutes; the sauce will seem quite thick and dry
> pour in the water and whisk together to combine; bring to a gentle simmer
> add the whipping cream and turn the heat off
> once the chicken is cooked and the sauce is ready, add the chicken to the sauce

Ingredients 2: The Lasagne
butter chicken and sauce
1/2 package oven-ready lasagne noodles
1 large package of spinach, steamed & drained
500 g cottage cheese
500 g mozarella, shredded

Method 2: The Lasagne
> from the bottom up, layer the following in very thin layers:
     - chicken & sauce
     - pasta
     - spinach
     - cottage cheese

Repeat so there two or three full layers of the above.  Finish with a final layer of pasta, covered in a lot of shredded mozzarella.  

Bake at 325ºF (170ºC) for 45 minutes - enjoy! 

The closer lasagne is butter chicken and the other is the mushroom; in the background Chris is butter garlic-ing the french bread.

Think it's sacrilegious to be messing with something as traditional as a classic lasagne? What do you like in a lasagne? What modifications would you make or have you made in a classic dish like this one lately?


  1. As one of the many hungry lasagna eaters at the community lunch this past Sunday, I can attest that both of Jessica's creations were Magnifique! Mouth-watering, deliciousness! And yes, I had a piece of each - so worth the exercise that I had to do later!

    Thanks for posting the recipes, I will be referring to them time and again!

  2. Heather - thank you! I am glad you enjoyed them that much!!

  3. I am so sad I missed this on Sunday, Jessica!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'm going to give it a go, under Cathy's supervision of course! Jeff

  4. Jeff - it wasn't the same without your family there! When you make this, I'm sure it'll be awesome. The butter chicken also goes well over rice with steamed veggies on the side too!