By SIMON WEBSTER
The vegetables in the raised garden beds are showing signs of life. They’re slowly pushing up towards the sunshine and barring another frost or bug attacks we should have some great vegetables and herbs for the restaurant this year.
My friend at Iron Gate Feed Store has been a great help for sourcing organic plants and seeds, and helping with any questions I have.
Because of all the new growth and flowers, spring is one of my favorite times. The sun is warm, the grapevines are starting to grow and little seedlings are pushing through the ground. Soon the farmers markets will be open and we’ll have a whole crop of summer vegetables.
When it comes to recipes, of course, salads come to mind first and with so many fresh ingredients to choose from it’s hard to decide which ones to make.
But what’s also great is vegetable lasagna. It’s something I make that receives a lot of requests. Last Monday, it was hit at Aggie Muster and everyone loves how it is packed with so many fresh vegetables.
This lasagna is made with a creamy white ricotta sauce and layered with sliced chicken breast and vegetables. The moist chicken and velvety sauce make a wonderful combination.
Red, yellow or orange bell peppers mixed with purple onions, peas, spinach, chopped tomatoes and mushrooms make a colorful addition to the stark white of the sauce, cheese and lasagna noodles. It is a beautiful presentation for any occasion.
The key to a creamy sauce is making your own white sauce instead of using a packaged mix or jar of sauce. It is quick and easy to make yourself and so much better for you. Also the pure flavor of whole, natural ingredients is what will make your cooking stand out above the rest.
Your guests, just as mine, will rave about how good it tastes.
Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine. For more information go to www.saborapasion.com or call 903-729-9500.
Chicken & Vegetable White Lasagna
For the Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cup warm milk
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1 pound ricotta cheese
Melt butter in a thick bottomed sauté pan. Add flour and cook for two minutes or until it reaches a light blond color. Add warm milk and bring to the boil. Take off heat and stir in ricotta cheese. Season with salt, pepper and chicken bouillon. Add more milk if sauce is too thick.
For the Lasagna:
9 lasagna noodles
2 chicken breasts, poached in water & sliced
1/2 each of red, orange and yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup green peas
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, cooked and squeezed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Sauté the peppers, onion, and mushrooms in a small amount of olive oil until soft. Remove from heat and stir in the peas, tomatoes and spinach. In a 9x13 baking dish layer the bottom of the dish with 3 lasagna noodles, 1/2 of the vegetables, 1/2 of the chicken and some of the white sauce. Repeat with another layer and finish by topping the last layer of noodles with the last of the white sauce and the Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Serve with fresh garden salad and garlic bread.
Simon Webster is the Executive Chef & Owner of Sabor Pasion Estate & Vineyard. A multi-event venue in Palestine, Texas. Born in England and raised in New Zealand he brings his globally inspired cuisine and lifestyle to guests of the Sabor a Pasion estate. www.saborapasion.com, 903-729-9500.