The past few days have been officially fall-like in Chicago, and while it’s not even legitimately chilly yet, it’s prompted me to break out the mother-load of all comfort food. Let’s face it: the time has past where I have to worry about appearing in a bathing suit (at least for the next 9 months or so). It’s ok to bulk up.
Now, don’t let the fact that there is spinach in this dish fool you. There’s absolutely nothing healthy about it. I’m sure any vitamins you may squeeze from the spinach are beaten to a pulp by multiple creams and cheeses (including cream cheese). But I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t say that for sure. I like to see the spinach as providing a valuable color contrast.
A couple of notes about this recipe. I used the no-cook lasagna noodles. The first time I ever tried them I was a bit skeptical, but they actually do work just fine. Ideally I’d prefer to have whole wheat, but the white ones are the only kind available at our local Trader Joe’s. While I don’t consider boiling pasta to be a particularly challenging task, I suppose they do save you a little time. Also, you could make this without the chicken if you wanted, but it really does add a nice flavor dimension–particularly if you can get good quality chicken from a local farmer (I got ours at the farmers’ market from Sugar Creek Farms, the same people who bring me the best ham steaks, which do have the power to reduce me to tears).
- 9 lasagna noodles
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 8 oz package of frozen spinach
- 2 c shredded colby jack cheese
- 1/3 c finely chopped onion
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp freshly-ground pepper
- 8 oz cream of chicken soup (home-made or canned)
- 8 oz package cream cheese
- 1/3 c mayonnaise
- 1 and 1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese
- Optional: 1 c chopped pecans
- If not using no-cook lasagna noodles, cook your noodles by the package instructions.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet. Chop chicken into small cubes and cook until cubes are no longer pink inside and still white on the outside.
- Combine spinach, colby jack, onion, nutmeg, corn starch, soy sauce, 1 tsp freshly ground pepper, soup, cream cheese, and mayonnaise in a large bowl. The easiest way to mix is to use your hands to squish everything together.
- Place three noodles in the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish (you could also use a smaller, deeper dish and have more layers). Spoon filling onto noodles and spread evenly so that noodles are completely covered. Repeat until all filling is used (about three layers of noodles). The top layer should be filling.
- Cover the entire dish with a layer of parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp freshly-ground pepper. If you’re using the pecans, spread them on top of the cheese.
- Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes uncovered. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Not only is this dish a great dinner, but it also survives well in the refrigerator and makes good leftovers for lunch the next day. Enjoy!