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Julie Kelly's Blog

Lasagna Can Be More Than Your Grandma’s Recipe

I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional lasagna. I’m not sure why; it contains many of my favorite ingredients like cheese, sausage, red sauce and noodles. Perhaps lasagna’s unwieldy nature is what I find unappealing - it never seems to cooperate to get one solid bite.

I do, however, like lasagna’s concept as a vehicle to combine other ingredients beyond the traditional recipe. Last fall, I created a yummy butternut squash lasagna with a creamy goat cheese sauce. In WHAT TO MAKE THIS WEEK, I’ve created a chicken and spinach lasagna that tastes a lot like chicken pot pie.

As far as this week’s technique lesson, this recipe features a traditional béchamel sauce. Béchamel is the base for many sauces such as Mornay (cheese). It is a simple sauce that begins with a roux (butter and flour) and whole milk. The ratio of each is easy to remember: One tablespoon of butter with one tablespoon of flour with one cup of whole milk. In this preparation, the béchamel is only flavored with Dijon mustard to give the sauce a little bite.

Make sure to keep the heat on medium low so you don’t scorch either the roux or the milk (and before you ask a dumb question like, “can I use skim milk?” the answer is no, no, no.)

Once you learn this technique (and it’s quite simple) you can incorporate it into other creamy recipes such as scalloped potatoes or homemade macaroni and cheese. Even in this recipe, if your taste buds so desire, you can melt in a few ounces of goat cheese for extra kick.

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"Julie, I really enjoyed your class and took way more away than I ever thought I would. I never in a million years thought a cooking class would make me excited to try new things!! So my hat's off to you. You are a great teacher and the recipes are so good!" 


Susie C., Orland Park