While I was at work today Bill and the kids went digging for clams. Yep, in January. After about an hour and a half of digging they brought home fifteen pounds total. Mostly little necks, with about a dozen steamers, a razor clam, and two oysters.
My fridge is packed. And not in a good way. It’s stuffed with neglected containers of meals past, with foods that need to be chopped and cooked and canned…with feta in brine for another couple of weeks, with jars of salsas and jams and pickles that we cracked open just to make sure they had turned out okay.
I needed to do some cleaning out. And part of the clean out resulted in this version of macaroni and cheese.
When I first started blogging, a whole bunch of years ago, one of the first recipes I sort of posted was for a dish we made for dinner – pasta with a bunch of chopped green herbs. I titled the post Green Spaghetti, but really, it wasn’t THE green spaghetti I had as a kid.
We all have certain dishes that we gravitate toward when we're feeling a little less than 100%. Foods that wrap us up in a big culinary hug and tell us everything will be okay, and we'll feel better soon.
I pronounce it "tet-ra-ZAHN-yah," in case you're curious.
I had roasted a great big chicken recently and we had a lot of leftovers, so I thought I'd make chicken tetrazzini one night. And chicken stock with the bones.
But. I already had a ton of dishes to do and I didn't want any more than I really, really needed to. Which meant I didn't want to use a pot to boil up spaghetti.
So. I had those Barilla no-boil lasagne noodles in the pantry and thought I'd make a lasagne-ish tetrazzini. Or a tetrazzini-ish lasagne.
So that meant I'd only dirty a pot for the sauce and a pan for the lasagne. Yay!
As you can see, my counters are a bit overcrowded.
And that's the tidy area. What? The cat food? Oh, yeah, it absorbs excess liquid and provides extra calcium and other nutrients. I used about a quarter cup.
Okay, not really.
Here's what I really did.
I melted half a stick of butter in a big pot...
And then I whisked in a quarter cup of flour which makes...anyone?...that's right - a roux.
To that, I added a about 2 and a half cups of chicken stock, a cup of white wine, and the rest of the gravy I'd made when we first had the chicken. Once that started bubbling, I stirred in the chicken (maybe about 3 cups or a bit more) and the leftover vegetables - in this case, grilled string beans (about half a cup), and potatoes and onions I'd roasted in the pan with the chicken (about a cup and a half of them). And once everything was heated through, I stirred in a cup of cream.
Now for the assembly...
I poured a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock in a 13 x 9 inch pyrex baking dish, swirled it around to coat the bottom of the dish, and then placed a layer of the lasagne noodles over that.
Then I ladled in a third of the chicken mixture...
then another layer of noodles, half the remaing chicken, more noodles, and then the last of the chicken.
(Yes. I see them. Sloppy drips I should have wiped off the edge of the pan. Sorry.)
And before it went in the oven, I topped it with about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup of grated parmesan cheese.
I also sprinkled paprika on top, but that image didn't come out too good, and these shots are wonky enough with the ugly lighting.
I baked the whole thing at 350 degrees for about 35-45 minutes - til it's golden brown on top and all bubbly and hot.
Here's a glimpse of the edge of the pan (because my picture of the top looked horrible).
Mmmm...goopy and bubbly and comforty.
Let it sit about ten minutes to set - if you can. And then go on and dish it up.
The kids liked it - Julia especially liked the pasta. Alex especially liked the chicken and the rest of the inner glop. (I mean "glop" in the yummiest possible way.) Bill had his later - he had played a wedding and didn't get home til later. And he said he wasn't all that hungry, at first, but said he'd have a little, probably because of the "What do you mean you're not HUNGRY??? After I worked for hours and hours and hours slaving away on this?????" look on my open-book face.
And that's a LOT shorter than the original title, which was "Lasagne of Homemade Ricotta, Homemade Mixed Greens Lasagne Noodles, and a Quick Homemade Tomato Sauce." The "mostly" refers to the mozzarella string cheese I used (hadn't made my OWN mozzarella at this point) on top of the lasagne.
Those are thyme leaves (from the window box near my kitchen door). I also used oregano, tarragon, and chives. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I've felt the urge to make fresh pasta lately, and I've seen, over the years, pasta with herb leaves pressed between the pasta layers. So, in that fresh pasta mood, and with PLENTY of herbs (though not all are ready) to choose from, I set to work.
All of our gardens this year seem, at this point, to be more lush and productive than they were at this time last year. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the super awesome compost we put down. Maybe my husband's green thumb grew THREE SIZES that day. I don't know. But we've got a lot of green stuff out there.
As I mentioned in this post yesterday, my kids love Sesame Noodles. And my husband has his own recipe for them, which is not written down and does not use actual measurements or anything. He just wings it.
My sister and my brother-in-law went out to eat the other night at Arturo Joe's - a fabulous restaurant in Narragansett. They both had the Tortellini Carbonara for their meals - my brother-in-law had chicken added to his - and of course the food was sublime.
Anyway, I couldn't figure out a way to sneak down to their house and steal the leftovers, so I figured I had to make my own.
I started making dinner around nine this morning. After yesterday's summer-like heat, this morning there was a very chilly breeze shaking up the leaves and cooling things down. The perfect day to make a sauce...