Chicken Pesto Lasagna

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  • My sweet neighbor brought me a huge bunch of home grown basil. It was enough to make not one, but two batches of pesto! Naturally, this called for a special occasion. Hmmmmm, what can I do with two batches of delicious, homemade pesto?

    Chicken Pesto Lasagna
    For the pesto, I basically made a double batch of my Basil Spinach Pesto recipe, however I only used the amount of olive oil that one batch calls for. I didn’t want the lasagna to be runny after it had baked, and as it was, it turned out perfect. Don’t worry about this dish being too dry either. It’s perfect with the ricotta cheese and spinach mixture. It’s even wonderful leftover! And not to toot my own horn {toot toot} but the man of the house said, and I quote, “This is the best lasagna I’ve ever had!”
    Chicken Pesto Lasagna
         makes 1 lasagna
    Homemade pesto {recipe below}
    2 tsp olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    4 C fresh baby spinach
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    15 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
    1 C shredded Parmesan cheese
    1 egg
    4 C cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
    2 C 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
    1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles {you will need 16 noodles total}
    For the Pesto:
    2 C fresh basil leaves
    4 C fresh spinach leaves
    1 C toasted pine nuts
    6 garlic cloves
    1 C grated Parmesan cheese
    1 tsp salt
    Zest and juice of 1 whole lemon
    1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
    For the pesto, pulse the basil, spinach, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor, drizzling the olive oil in the top while blending until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. This will make just over 2 cups of fresh pesto. Set aside until you layer the lasagna.
    Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350º and spray a 10X14 pan with non-stick spray. Heat the 2 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Sauté for a few minutes and add the chopped garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent, and add the spinach, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook just until spinach is wilted and remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix the onion and spinach mixture with the ricotta, Parmesan, egg and cooked chicken. Stir until everything is completely combined.
    Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to box directions and drain. Once noodles are cool enough to handle, spread a thin layer of the pesto on the bottom of the baking dish and begin layering. Start with four noodles, slightly overlapping, 1/4 of the pesto, 1/3 of the chicken mixture, and 1/4 of the mozzarella.
    Repeat two more times, then layer your last 4 noodles, pesto and mozzarella on the top.
    Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, 40-45 minutes total. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting and serving.
    While I highly recommend making your own pesto for this dish, if you just aren’t up for that, you can of course use store bought pesto. You will need a little over 2 cups.
    This is a great alternative to traditional lasagna, especially if you are a pesto lover like I am. Also, this is a great way to sneak lots of fresh spinach in a dish for picky kiddos! Traditional marinara or spaghetti sauce can have lots of sugar in it so this pesto based dish is a creative way to still get your lasagna fix with out the added sugar.
    Give it a try and let me know what you think!
    • christy

      Sounds awesome!

    • sweetdreams47

      This is in the oven right now. I tweaked it a bit by adding alfredo to my homemade pesto. I also skipped the mozzerella as I had some pesto gouda on hand from trader joes. I can’t wait to try it!

    • Teri Hedges

      Never made any kind of lasagna ever before..! I’m excited to try this chicken pesto idea. Just went into the oven.

    • Susan Soares

      I love this dish and have made it many times and always get raves. Today I am sharing you recipe and site link on my blog