Welcome to Direct Your Dining! This cooking series will introduce you to energy efficient recipes full of tips to keep your meals delicious without using every appliance in the kitchen. Preparing recipes with energy efficiency in mind at least once a week will make cooking a little easier, and may even help reduce your monthly electricity bill. Check in every week for a new recipe full of flavor and creativity that will surely impress your friends and family.
Do you ever find yourself with a refrigerator full of leftovers or half bags of food and wonder what you could make with them? If so, check out today’s energy saving recipe for mini chicken and greens lasagna.
If you’ve noticed, my favorite time and energy saving tip in these recipes is going smaller to speed up the cooking time. These mini lasagnas cook in 20 minutes, which is 40 minutes less than cooking a full lasagna!
This recipe is a perfect vessel to use up leftover baked chicken breasts, the last few sheets of lasagna noodles from the box, and any white cheese you have in your cheese drawer. My leftover chicken was marinated in Italian dressing, and I then added a little lemon juice, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, black pepper, and paprika.
The creamy, cheesy baby kale and baby spinach sauté cooks up in minutes on the stove and is worth the little bit of effort to really make the flavors of these mini lasagnas pop!
Another energy saving tip is to warm the chicken up before you place it in the ramekins to bring the ingredients to room temperature. This speeds up the baking time and prevents mini lasagnas that are perfectly done on top and not hot in the middle.
Lastly, when it comes to layering the ingredients in the ramekins, the only important thing is to butter or oil the ramekin first. Then, start with a little layer of ricotta cheese on the bottom, and then add the noodles and everything else in any order you want. Just finish the top with the chicken, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese for a pretty presentation. I try to get about 3 to 4 pasta pieces in each ramekin.
If you don’t have ramekins and decide to make this in a bigger casserole dish for a little longer cooking time, this is still a simple recipe that will be a big hit for your dinner any night of the week!
If you don’t have leftover chicken hanging out in your refrigerator, just pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store instead, remove the skin, and pull the meat off the bone. If you aren’t in the mood for chicken, go vegetarian by substituting in chopped zucchini and squash, or use a few more handfuls of diced Roma tomatoes.
I will share the recipe for these baked chicken breasts at the end of today’s recipe for anyone looking for a new chicken breast recipe that works in a multitude of dishes.
Have fun building these mini lasagnas!
Mini Chicken and Greens Lasagna
Lasagna Ingredients (Makes 6 Ramekins):
- 10 Lasagna pasta sheets, uncooked
- 2 qt. Water
- 1 qt. Chicken broth
- 3 c. Cooked chicken breasts, diced (leftovers or rotisserie chicken)
- 1 c. Fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
- 6 oz. Baby spinach package
- 6 oz. Baby kale package
- ½ c. Sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 c. Whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 c. Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ¼ c. Heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Garlic paste
- 1 tbsp. Lemon juice
- Seasoning mix from below
- Chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley or basil for garnish
Seasoning Mix Ingredients:
- ½ tsp. Garlic powder
- ½ tsp. Paprika
- ½ tsp. Sea salt
- ¼ tsp. Fresh cracked black peppercorns
- ¼ tsp. Basil flakes
- ¼ tsp. Ground oregano
- ¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper
1) Mix all the seasoning mix ingredients together in a small dish. Set aside until you cook the greens.
2) Prepare lasagna sheets by bringing the water and chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the sheets and boil for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off for the last few minutes and let the residual heat in the water cook the noodles to al dente.
3) Drain the noodles and lay them out on parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together.
4) Heat oven to 375° F (191° C). Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add in the diced onion and garlic paste and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
5) Add in the greens handful by handful while continuing to cook. They will cook down and make room for more greens. Pour in the seasoning mixture along with the greens and cook until all the greens are wilted down.
6) Turn the heat to low, pour in the Asiago cheese, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Stir until all melted and combined.
7) Turn the heat off and stir in 2/3 cup of the ricotta cheese (leaving 1/3 cup for the ramekin base layers).
8) Coat the inside of each ramekin with a little butter or olive oil to prevent sticking.
9) First spread a small layer of plain ricotta cheese. Then add a piece of prepared lasagna noodle. Then alternate layers of chicken, tomatoes, cheesy greens, mozzarella cheese, and more noodles.
10) Finish the top of each filled ramekin with one last lasagna sheet topped little extra chicken, tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and serve!
These delicious mini lasagnas can be served right in the ramekins or scooped out onto a plate and served with a garnish of fresh chopped basil, chopped parsley, or more diced Roma tomatoes!
Need that recipe for the leftover baked chicken used in today’s photos and recipe? Here ya go!
Baked Italian Chicken Ingredients:
- 6 Large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ c. Italian dressing (any brand/bottle bought at store)
- 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp. Sea salt
- ½ tsp. Fresh cracked black peppercorns
- ½ tsp. Paprika
- ¼ tsp. Basil flakes (or fresh chopped parsley)
- ¼ tsp. Red chili flakes
- ¼ tsp. Ground oregano
- 1 tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1) Season all the chicken breasts evenly with the sea salt, paprika, basil flakes, chili flakes, ground oregano, and cracked black peppercorns.
2) In any large gallon disposable bag, add the seasoned chicken breasts, Italian dressing, parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon juice.
3) Mix everything around to evenly coat the chicken. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to marinate the chicken.
4) Heat the oven to 375° F (191° C). Move the marinated chicken breasts to a baking dish and pour in any extra marinade from the bag over the chicken. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
4) Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and back for 10 more minutes. The chicken is only done when the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° F (74° C).
Check back in every week for more Direct Your Dining recipes to help reduce your energy use in the kitchen while getting creative with delicious dishes!
Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan