Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I Dream of Tuscany

One day I will head off on a jet plane and spend a few weeks in Tuscany. I know that I will have to go on a diet beforehand and that will be one diet I won't mind at all.

Can you imagine all the glorious food that you could eat in Tuscany? Not to mention the wine! Yes, after eating cheese, bread, wine, pasta, olive oil roasted veggies, pizza, gelato, and everything else I could get my hands onto, I know I would gain weight.

But each pound would taste so good!

Thinking about the weight makes a little happier that jet setting to Italy isn't in the cards this year. And, for now, I am ok with just dreaming of Tuscany and experimenting with different foods I think sing of Italy.

Here is my last Top Ten Recipe in the Olivieri Taste of Home Lasagna Recipe Competition.

But don't worry lasagna lovers, I still have one more lasagna recipe to share with you that didn't make it into the Top Ten!
Tuscan Veggie and Pesto Chicken Lasagna 

1 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 medium acorn square, peeled and diced
1 large can of chopped tomatoes, drained
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 head of garlic
3 medium chicken breasts
1 large bunch of kale, stems and ribs removed and leaves cut into ribbons
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup of basil pesto
2 1/3 cup tomato sauce 
3 cups mozzarella cheese
1 package of lasagna sheets, about 6 sheets 
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare veggies. Combine zucchini, eggplant, squash, and tomatoes in a large baking dish, toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Slice top 1/4 inch off head of garlic and pour 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil into the centre of it. Place garlic on baking dish with the veggies. Bake veggies for about 45 minutes or until all veggies are tender. 

2. Place 3 medium chicken breasts on a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and pour 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over each breast. Bake in the oven with the veggies for about 20 - 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. 

3. While veggies are roasting, saute kale in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until wilted and tender, about 2-3 minutes. 

4. Combine egg, ricotta cheese, feta cheese, and sundried tomatoes. Set aside. 

5. Once chicken is fully cooked, let it rest about five minutes and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Then toss it with basil pesto. 

6. When the head of garlic is cool enough to touch, peel the cloves and roughly chop them. Add them into the roasted veggies. Also add the sauteed kale into the roasted veggies. Toss to combine all veggies. 

7. Layer your lasagna. Pour 1/3 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish and place a layer of lasagna sheets on top. Top with 1/2 of the roasted veggies. Place another layer of lasagna sheets on next. Next, dollop the ricotta mixture on and spread in an even layer. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets, followed by the chicken and pesto mixture and one cup of grated mozzarella cheese. Top with one final layer of lasagna sheets, the remaining half of the roasted veggies, another two cups of tomato sauce and two cups of grated mozzarella cheese. 

8. Cover lasagna with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes uncovered. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving and enjoying!

This is my all time favourite lasagna. It's more work than some lasagnas, but it's so worth it!

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