Chicken Pesto Lasagna with Summer Veggies

Seemingly Odd Flavors Meld Well for this Summer Lasagna…

For some time now, I’ve been batch cooking every Sunday that I can so I can have lots of variety in my leftovers for lunch each week at work. I’ve finally decided that I’m going to do a weekly Sunday batch cooking post, for my “Batch Cooking Sunday’s”! This week’s Batch Cooking Sunday recipe is one that I came up with last week…Chicken Pesto Lasagna with Summer Vegetables.Last week, I was unable to cook on Sunday during the day (new house related issues + house guest), so that evening, my hubby and I headed over to Ziggy’s for dinner to discuss a potential problem with our new home. We sorted out our problem over dinner, so we were much relieved and decided to prepare our dinner for the next evening that night.

Earlier in the week, I had bought ground chicken, as I’d never used it before and thought it would be a nice challenge to use it instead of ground turkey breast (and gosh, was it cheap!). Going through the blogs gave me inspiration…The Lunch Bunch provided inspiration for me to make a pesto-like lasagna. I normally would have continued with their trend to make it vegetarian (didn’t see any reason to make it vegan), but the Mexi-spicy pesto gave me inspiration to use the ground chicken and make it a Mexi-chicken pesto lasagna!

This ended up being the ultimate garbage pail lasagna…we just kept on chopping and cooking until we exhausted most of the veggies in our fridge for this masterpiece. Needless to say, this recipe is highly adaptable…

Ingredients:

  • 8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked per packaging (we used Healthy Harvest)
  • Parsley pesto (ingredients to follow)
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, diced (divided)
  • 2 cups Reduced Fat Monterrey Jack Cheese (I used HEB store brand)
  • 2 sliced Roma Tomatos
  • 1 lb ground chicken (can sub ground turkey)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder (we use Penzey’s Medium Hot)

Parsley Pesto (adapted from The Lunch Bunch):

  • 2 cups toasted unsalted pine nuts (pignolias)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (would be great addition, we for once didn’t have cilantro on hand, so we omitted)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1 jalapeno, diced, deseeded

Prepare all of your veggies, while you are doing this, you can start a large pot to boil your lasagna noodles, as that will be a pretty big time sink. (cook noodle per instructions while constructing the rest of your ingredients)

In a pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil on medium heat and add half of the onion. Saute onion for about 30 seconds and then add the garlic. Add ground chicken and chili powder. Cook until chicken is done and crumbled and onion is translucent. Put into bowl and set aside.

Use same pan and add the other half of onion and saute for about a minute. Add in the zucchini, squash, and red pepper. Saute until onion is translucent, make sure you don’t overcook the zucchini and squash, you are going to be baking them as well and don’t want them to get mushy! Place into another bowl (separate from chicken) and set aside.

Make the pesto by first toasting your pine nuts until nice and golden brown. Add all of the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor and pulse until it becomes a paste.

Prepare a 13×9″ baking dish by spreading a thin layer of pesto on the bottom. Layer 3 noodles on top of pesto and then the sliced tomatoes. Layer the chicken mixture on top of the tomatoes and top with ~1/2 cup of cheese. Place 2 noodles, centered, on top of that layer and spread the rest of the pesto on top of the noodles (do this to taste, we found that the quantity that this recipe makes was a bit too much pesto for our liking and will reduce next time). Place veggie mixture on top of pesto. Top with remaining 3 noodles and the remainder of the cheese.

This will keep in the fridge overnight if you want to cook it the next day (cover with foil).

The next day all you have to do is heat the oven to 350F and pop it in for ~25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove foil to melt the cheese better and brown the top. Since we used reduced fat cheese, some of it crisped up before actually melting, so be aware if you are using reduced fat cheese.

Let sit for ~5-10 minutes, cut into 12 pieces and serve!

This lasagna isn’t the best for you, but nearly all of the fat is from good nutty fats, not meat or dairy fats…

The jalapeno in the pesto definitely gave this dish pizzaz and it reheats well for leftovers!

After we ate that evening, we went off to the climbing gym…by the time we came back, our house guest had eaten 3 pieces! When asked how he liked it, he said, “It’s pretty good, except for the zucchini and squash”…so if it could get someone who didn’t like zucchini and squash to eat 3 pieces, I think it was successful!

For leftovers, whatever you aren’t going to eat within a week, freeze in a ziploc bag. A day before you want to eat it, transfer it to the fridge to defrost. Works like a charm everytime! :-)

Nutrition (1/12 recipe):

  • 379 cal
  • 24 g fat
  • 24 g carb
  • 5 g fiber
  • 16 g protein

Also, FYI, I have been updating my Race Log…I had a summer record last weekend and a decent race yesterday! Can’t wait to go home in 2 weeks to get to run a race in low(er) humidity and hopefully <70F!