365 Ways to Cook Pasta (see all of our entries from this book). Browsing last weekend as we planned the week's menu, I noticed that we already had several of the ingredients required for entry #121, Chicken and Broccoli Lasagne in Parmesan Custard. (I notice that the word can end in e or a -- this book prefers "lasagne," though I have always used "lasagna," which seems to be a slightly more common spelling.)
Lasagna is always dish-intensive, and this is perhaps more so: it requires a sauce pan, a mixing bowl, a cutting board (two boards or one that is washed during the preparation), a skillet, a stock pot, and a casserole -- plus half the utensils in the kitchen. The result is a blonde lasagna -- no tomatoes were harmed in this production -- that is sweet and savory.
Preparation begins with a custard of egg, milk, flour, butter, and Parmesan cheese, which is eventually poured under, within, and over the final dish -- becoming almost a matrix for the chicken, vegetables, and cheese that are layered between the noodles. The custard includes a pinch of nutmeg, which gave the final dish a mild sweetness. The recipe calls for ground red pepper; having only crushed red pepper, I substituted a pinch of cayenne. In retrospect, I was too cautious, and should have used a bit more to compete with the nutmeg.
We of course used real lasagna noodles. The existence of fake, no-boil noodles takes away our whining rights about the dishes, but I really cannot imagine doing all 80 percent of the work of a lasagna but leaving the noodles to chance.
Our filling was mostly organic -- chicken and carrots from the grocery store and broccoli and green beans frozen last summer from our Cochester CSA. The recipe calls for more than a pound of broccoli, of which we only had about half a pound. Cooking it together with some green beans worked out well. We were a bit short on mozzarella cheese -- about 2/3 of the called-for pound, but the end result was still quite delicious!