This is not your ordinary Pasta, by any means. Joanne and Carol were at
the table with pesto and sour cream, and leftover roasted chicken. As
happens, a little dabbling occurred and wow, that tasted great. Even
better with the just bottled Charbono. So Good! The wine club dinner
was coming up, as was our meeting with Chef Nicola. We excitedly sat
down with Nicola and the first thing we said was he had to make pasta
using these flavors as a filling. Ah, he said, I already do that. It’s
Chicken Pesto Lasagna. Yep, there it was on his menu. Was it subliminal
or kismet or a meeting of great palates? Whatever the source of the
recipe, and whatever the source of your choosing how to assemble this
combination of flavors, do try this. It absolutely is meant to be
paired with the 2008 Charbono, which you will find very appealing right
now. It is amazingly good with all those big flavors of wine and pasta
together at last. And why not? After all, that’s Italian! The
premise here is to combine Bechamel
Sauce, Pesto, Basil of course,
Roasted Chicken, Pasta and Parmigiano
From The Gourmet Cookbook.
Actually a Mornay Sauce, using
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose
cups whole milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Melt butter in a heavy 11/2- to 2- quart saucepan over moderately low
hear. Add onion and cook stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. Add
flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes to make a roux. Add milk in a
steady stream, whisking constantly, and cook, whisking, until thick and
smooth. Whisk in salt and pepper, then simmer sauce, whisking
frequently, until thickened to desired consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.
If done carefully, you don’t need to sieve this, so we skipped this
step: Pour sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, discard solids.
Add the 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, and stir until incorporated.
If not serving sauce immediately cover surface with a buttered round of
wax paper, buttered side down, to prevent a skin from forming.
This is where it gets serious. In season we use fresh Basil, the leaves
only, pulverized for an hour (more, it seems) in Mama’s mortar and
pestle. Completely smooth, we add olive oil, garlic cloves, and a small
handful of pine nuts and make that into a paste. To serve, we add more
olive oil than used in the mortar. The main point is, when basil and
olive oil are put in a food processor, it’s not quite the same. In the
interest of time, it is probably more sane, however. The 3rd choice is
to simply purchase a very high quality prepared pesto in a jar.
Sorry, you’re on your own here. Either roast or purchase a roasted
chicken. Don’t get fancy and have flavor-enhanced (ie, strongly herbed
or lemon) chicken. You just want the cooked meat, cubed.
For those of you adept at making fresh pasta at home, Nicola used
sheets of very thin pasta, cooked, drained, then layered with the
sauce, some cheese on top. Don’t use those thick, packaged noodles. It
is too much, too heavy here. Alternatively, we used mini penne pasta
with the sauce when we served it to the club at Harvest Faire.
To 2 cups warm Bechamel Sauce, add 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
(this is as mentioned above, here in case you didn’t see it).
Stir until smooth. Stir in 1 Tablespoon Pesto, plus 1 Tablespoon Olive
Oil. I like more pesto flavoring, others like it more subtle. When
uniformly distributed, add 1 cup cubed skinless chicken. Then create
either your lasagna or add to your favorite pasta shape. Lasagna is
baked at 350 degrees just until the top is a little browned and the
sauce starts bubbling.