Smaller Kitchens, Smaller Bills, But Not Smaller Meals

Smaller Kitchens, Smaller Bills, But Not Smaller Meals

For at least a decade now, bigger has been better in American lives. The American dream included a big SUV, a big screen TV and a big house with a big kitchen. In reality, most people didn't have these things, but that's what we were lead to believe was what we should have. But these days, as a reaction to a downturn in the economy and an upturn in prices on everything from transportation to food, smaller is becoming the new way to live.


Nowhere is this more evident (other than the gas pump) than in our kitchens. As the price of fuel and the demand for bio-fuels increases, so do our food prices. It used to be that everyone wanted a gourment kitchen, and while many people probably still dream of one, the reality is that most of us cook in a small kitchen in a small house on a small budget. And now, small is in again. Small cars, small houses and smaller bills. But just because we're downsizing our livestyles doesn't mean we have to downsize our eating habits.

With that in mind, Recipe4Living wants to help you make the most of your small kitchen with big ideas in food. One of the best ways to make the most of you food budget is to cook from scratch, and Wolfgang Puck has an economical and delicious alternative to beef-based lasagna with this Chicken Lasagna.

From start to finish, you'll have a wonderful home-cooked dinner on the table in about an hour. And you don't even have to tell anyone you made it with the help of the supermarket's rotisserie!

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce:

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 tsp. diced jalapeno pepper (optional)

1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil leaves

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Lasagna Noodles:

3/4 lb. dried lasagna noodles

1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Filling:

1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, stemmed and washed

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 C. bite-sized pieces cooked chicken

3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

6 oz. mascarpone, at room temperature

6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Serving:

1/2 C. good quality canned chicken broth

Directions

First, make the Tomato Sauce: In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, jalapeno, thyme and basil, reduce the heat and cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the lasagna noodles. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, tender but still chewy, following the manufacturer's suggested cooking time. Drain well, rinse with cold running water, and drain again. In a bowl, gently toss with the olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Prepare the filling: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a mixing bowl with ice and water. Add the spinach to the boiling water and boil for about 30 seconds, drain, and immediately transfer to the ice water. Drain again. With your hands, gather together the cooled spinach and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely. In a small skillet, heat the 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic. Sauté the spinach, stirring just until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the chicken with 3 Tbs. tomato sauce and 1 Tbs. Parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper and salt. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange a layer of noodles in the bottom. With a spoon, spread the mascarpone over the pasta. Cover with the chopped spinach. Top with more pasta and spread the chicken mixture on top. Top with a third layer of pasta. Spread 1 C. of the tomato sauce on top. Cover with a final layer of pasta, then the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is nicely browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave at room temperature to settle for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir the chicken broth into the remaining sauce and warm over medium heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings. To serve, use a sharp serrated knife to cut into 6 equal rectangles. Spoon some sauce onto each serving plates. With a spatula, carefully remove each portion of lasagna and transfer to a plate.

Yield: 6 servings

Other budget-wise recipes include:

Budget Casserole

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Buritto Casserole

Traditional Neapolitan Marinara Sauce

Easy Apple Dip

Enjoy these and other great meals from Recipe4Living that'll have you and your family wondering what was so great about "Big" meals anyway.

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