To gaze upon the vast array of magnificent colors and shapes that our whole foods contain is to gaze upon our Creator's art work.
The vibrant green of a crisp spring zucchini; the bright pop of yellow and the curved “neck” of a squash; the emerald boldness and perfectly round and firm shape of petite peas; and the the savory-yet-sweet tanginess of tomatoes that so perfectly make up an exquisite and nourishing sauce.
Healthy foods have the benefit of beauty and flavor on their side.
They entice us to partake in them so that our physical bodies can be strong, resilient, healthy, and operating at their optimal level of function.
They're designed to nourish our bodies from within, nourish our every cell, because they contain a life force, an energy, that is meant to not only sustain, but to do so in such a way that uplifts our spirits and invigorates each of our wonderful senses, if we allow.
And a gloriously vibrant Pasta Primavera Lasagna offers the perfect vessel for just such amazing and beautiful foods.
It holds and embraces within its layers a bright red and herbaceous sauce that mingles together with the delicate spring vegetables, chicken, and just a hint of cheese, and fills the one partaking with something both nourishing and beautiful, both good and true, going deep within to warm the very heart.
And just as magnificent foods can beckon to us to consume them and therefore nourish our bodies from within, so too can all of those good and true things that resonate with love's chord nourish our soul and keep us reaching upward toward the One that created us.
For it is these good and true things which remind us that we were created to be extraordinary.
When we nourish our souls with music that makes us want to dance; when we nourish our souls by surrounding ourselves with the people that we care most about; when we freely and liberally express and accept love; when we nourish our souls with messages of hope and love, then we grow strong and resilient, grow upward toward the light that infuses us with even more wisdom and understanding, grace and mercy.
And those are the things that are life sustaining, and that we need to feed ourselves the most.
Our souls are crying out for more of these nourishing things, these things of a good and true nature, these things that are real and right in front of us.
At our fingertips we have so very many things that are good and true.
So may we partake of the beautiful bounty that our Creator has available for us by taking in those things that add to both our physical and spiritual, and help us to grow abundantly in the Light.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Pasta Primavera Lasagna with Spring Veggies and Garlic Chicken
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6-8
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into tiny, bite-size pieces
• 6 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press, divided use
• Black pepper
• ¼ cup flour
• Canola oil
• 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
• 3 zucchini, diced into tiny, bite-size pieces
• 1 yellow squash, diced into tiny, bite-size pieces
• 4 ounces trimmed, “pencil”-thin asparagus, cut into tiny, bite-size pieces
• ½ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• ¼ cup julienned basil
• 12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions, and held warm
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 2 ½ cups shredded Italian cheese blend
-Toss together the chicken pieces with about 2 cloves worth of the pressed garlic, plus a couple of pinches of salt and pepper; then, sprinkle over the flour, and toss very well to coat.
-Place a large, heavy bottom (braising/Dutch oven) pan over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3-4 tablespoons of the oil; once the oil is hot, add in the chicken (work in a couple of batches if necessary) and do not disturb it so that a crust can form; after a couple of minutes, move the pieces around with a slotted spoon to allow for it to become golden on the other sides; remove from pan and repeat with remainder of chicken, if working in batches; set aside.
-Add a little more oil into that same pan, and then add in the mushrooms and saute them for a few moments until they become golden-brown; remove from pan and set aside for a moment.
-Add into the pan the zucchini and the squash, and saute those for a few moments just until they become golden-brown and crisp/tender; add in the asparagus and peas, and then return to the pan the mushrooms and the chicken pieces, plus the remainder of the pressed garlic, and stir to combine until it becomes aromatic.
-Add in the crushed tomatoes, plus a couple of liberal pinches of salt and pepper, along with the Italian seasoning.
-Allow the sauce to gently simmer for about 5 minutes, then the turn the heat off; finish the sauce by adding in the parsley and the julienned basil.
-Preheat your oven to 350°, and very lightly mist a large casserole or baking dish with cooking spray.
-Add about a cup's worth of the chicken/veggie sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, then layer over that either 3 or 4 lasagna noodles, depending on how wide your dish is.
-Next, layer over more of the chicken/veggie sauce, and sprinkle over it about 1/3 of the grated parmesan.
-Repeat with another layer, the same way.
-With the final layer, add the lasagna noodles and the sauce, plus the rest of the parmesan, and top with the shredded Italian cheese blend to finish.
-Bake the lasagna for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.