It’s no real secret that I enjoy taking “back of the box” or “back of the can” recipes and adapting them to use whole, fresh ingredients instead of preservative-laden ones. (Case in point: this Homemade Bisquick Recipe.)
Take this recipe for Chicken Lasagna: while the original Betty Crocker recipe was good in theory, it utilized not one, but two cans of condensed cream of chicken soup. Aside from the obvious preservatives and chemicals lurking in canned condensed soups, these soups contain something else that we don’t often think about: sky-high sodium levels.
Did you know that one can of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup* contains 870 mg of sodium? One can. Now, for this recipe, multiply that by two – and that’s without any additional seasoning. If you struggle with high blood pressure or any number of other diseases affected by or caused by high sodium intake, these kinds of ingredients are a real danger zone for you.
My version of this recipe skips the canned soup in favor of an easy white sauce made with a simple roux, milk, and chicken stock. Aside from being lower in calories and fat than the original sauce (and skipping the unnecessary preservatives), it also cuts the sodium levels in half. That’s a small change that can make a big difference for your health and that of your family.
*Nutrition information available on the Campbell’s website.
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 large red pepper, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlics, minced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups low fat milk
- 1/2 teaspoon parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese, (one container)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
- 12 sheets no boil lasagna noodles
- 1 pound chopped frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9-inch glass baking dish; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the red pepper, and sauté for 3 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook for another minute. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture; stir for about 1 minute, until thoroughly combined, then slowly pour in the chicken stock and the milk.
Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 5-8 minutes. Add the parsley, basil, and pepper; taste and add an additional ½ teaspoon of the salt if necessary. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese.
Spread about 1/3 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Top with 4 of the noodles, breaking into pieces as needed to fit.
Top with 1 cup of the sauce, half of the ricotta cheese mixture, half of the spinach (make sure you have squeezed out as much moisture as possible from the spinach before adding it to the lasagna), 1 cup of the chicken, 1/3 cup of the cheddar cheese and 2/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
Repeat these layers once, starting with the noodles. Place the last 4 noodles over the top of the assembled layers; top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with last 1/3 cup of cheddar, 2/3 cup of mozzarella, and remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 50-55 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is golden. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.