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Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

I decided to create this lasagna after having seen similar ingredients used in a different dish. I thought,”Ooh, that would make a great lasagna!”. So, I picked up a few ingredients at the grocery store that I didn’t already have on hand and I sat down and wrote the recipe.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

As I worked my way through the recipe, I tweaked it to follow what I actually found while making the dish. A couple of observations: I had three layers and no problems. I used an 11″x13″ baking dish and I had to break a few noodles to fill in some space where whole noodles would not fit…no problem. You could use a smaller dish and make more layers, but make sure you leave some room at the top, so that the sauce won’t bubble out while cooking. Also, I started with 8oz of mozzarella and upped it to 12oz, because I ran out and opened another bag. On the other hand, I didn’t quite use all of the parmesan cheese. Cheese should be to your liking. Additionally, I used cottage cheese, instead of ricotta, because I don’t care for ricotta. To me, it’s just to dense and pastey. The cottage cheese is lighter and creamy. I bought a one pound container and used a little over half. The toasted pine nuts were a terrific addition. You could skip them…I know that they are expensive, but a few tablespoons really make a big difference!

So good!!!

So good!!!

Toasting pine nuts...carefully!

Toasting pine nuts…carefully!

I also made some fettucine alfredo for my kids and had a little extra alfredo sauce, so I drizzled a little on the top of my serving. It wasn’t really necessary, but it looked nice. I didn’t have any leftover pesto bechamel, but if I had, I would have used it for a little drizzle. Finally, I chopped whole artichoke bottoms into a medium dice.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

You could use hearts, if you like, but sometimes you get a fibrous leaf or two…no big deal, but maybe not the best idea for guests. And I don’t think you would want to use “marinated” artichokes…just plain, canned. My wife thanked me for leaving out mushrooms…she has lost her taste for them recently, for some reason. But, in my head, I was thinking how good some sautéed mushrooms would have been! I hope you’ll try this recipe! If you do, leave me a comment on what you think of the recipe…and enjoy!

Pesto & Artichoke Béchamel Lasagna

(Using “No Boil” Noodles)

Ingredients:

1 box “No Boil” Lasagna Noodles

1 small jar prepared Pesto

1 12oz bag shredded Mozzarella (or more, if you like)

1 8oz bag shredded Parmesan

1 container small curd Cottage Cheese (or Ricotta)

1 can Artichoke Bottoms, drained and chopped medium

2 T. Pine Nuts, toasted (for garnish)

For the Béchamel:

2 c. Half’n’Half

1 c. 1% Milk

1 small Shallot, chopped fine (or sub. sweet onion and a garlic clove)

3 T. Butter

3 T. all-purpose Flour

2 c. Vegetable Stock

Pinch of Salt

 

Directions:

Make the béchamel. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Sauté shallot for 2 minutes, whisk in Flour, whisk until the Flour and Butter are well combined. Add Half’n’Half and Milk. Increase heat and bring to a simmer and allow to thicken/reduce for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and continue to simmer for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in jar of Pesto.

Roux

Roux

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Assemble the Lasagna: Cover the bottom of an 11”x13” baking dish with Béchamel. Cover the béchamel with Lasagna Noodles and cover with Béchamel.

IMG_20150302_164220871

Start with pesto bechamel.

Dot the surface with small spoonsful of Cottage Cheese (or ricotta). Next, spread a layer of Mozzarella Cheese and follow with a light layer of Parmesan. Evenly sprinkle chopped Artichokes. Repeat with another layer and then finish with Béchamel and Cheeses.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375F for 50 minutes.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered. Garnished with pine nuts.

Remove foil and put under a broiler for a couple of minutes to brown a bit and bubble the cheese on top (or bake additional 10 minutes). Allow to set up for a couple of minutes while toasting the Pine Nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes…move frequently and do not burn! Sprinkle Pine Nuts evenly over the lasagna, cut into squares and serve.

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Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza

Trader Joe's Punjab Choley Pizza

Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza

An unabashed appeal to Trader Joe’s to try my recipe and publish it on their website. Maybe get a plug for my blog…maybe a sponsor? I don’t mind hawking a few Trader Joe’s recipes…I regularly visit my local Trader Joe’s and enjoy their products. This recipe uses their very convenient pre-made pizza dough, a spicy Indian chick pea dish that comes in a shelf-stable package (and is really good over rice!), and their Authentic Greek Feta packaged in a little plastic tub of brine that lasts well in the refrigerator. This recipe is versatile and easy. Add more or less cheese, to your taste. Add garnishes to your liking…if I had some on hand when I made this, I would have used some finely diced cucumber and some cilantro leaves after the sour cream drizzle. A very light dusting of cumin would be nice. In the summer, some roasted or grilled veggies. Maybe add a sprinkle of corn kernels before baking…hey, it’s pizza…do whatever you like! So far, it’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t have to be. Add some diced ham or tandoori chicken, maybe? Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza      created by Matt Miller

Ingredients:

1 Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough

1 pkg. Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley

2 to 3 ounces Trader Joe’s Authentic Greek Feta, crumbled (to taste)

2 to 3 ounces Trader Joe’s Shredded Mozzarella (to taste)

3 T. Trader Joe’s Sour Cream

1 t. Trader Joe’s Half’n’Half or Heavy Cream

All –Purpose Flour, for dusting

Olive Oil or Non-Stick Spray

Directions:

Coat a mixing bowl with olive oil or spray with non-stick spray. Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat in oil/spray. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Dough and Punjab Choley

Dough and Punjab Choley

Preheat oven to 475F and place pizza stone in the center of the oven, if you have one, and prepare pizza on a flour dusted pizza peel  or cutting board. Otherwise, prepare the pizza and use a flour dusted pizza pan or pizza screen. First, squeeze bubbles out of dough and roll out in a circular shape to about 14”. Use a fork to poke holes in the dough all over. This is called “docking” and reduces large bubbles forming in the oven. Empty the contents of the Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley onto the center of the dough. Spread the Punjab Choley evenly across the pizza.

Assembled and just put in the oven.

Assembled and just put in the oven.

Distribute the mozzarella and feta cheeses evenly across the pizza as well. I recommend not covering with mozzarella as heavily as you would an Italian pizza.

Transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone or place the pizza pan in the oven. Bake until bottom is golden brown and the cheeses are bubbly and lightly browned.

Cooked and cut.

Cooked and cut.

While the pizza is baking, mix the sour cream and half’n’half or cream together to make a thick sauce. I like to put the mixture into a zip lock bag, seal and squeeze into one corner.  IMAG2454When the pizza comes out of the oven, cut into pieces and serve hot. Just before service, cut a tiny corner off of the zip lock bag and squeeze a drizzle of the sauce onto each piece. Enjoy!

Drizzled with sour cream and served.

Drizzled with sour cream and served.

Optional: You can garnish with finely diced cucumber and/or cilantro leaves, if you like.

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