This is a completely different take on regular red sauce lasagna. This one incorporates layers of white mushroom sauce, lasagna noodles, chicken, asparagus, roasted red peppers and cheese. This is a great dish to layer in a casserole dish a few hours ahead of time and refrigerate until time to bake.
For the sauce:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1/2 t. salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14 ounces) can chicken broth (or 1-3/4 cups homemade)
1-1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 t. fresh thyme leaves, removed from stem
For the lasagna:
8 ounces oven-ready lasagna noodles (or standard lasagna noodes, pre-cooked to firm al dente stage)
2 cups cooked diced chicken
2 cups fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper (canned or jarred is fine, but not the pickled variety)
2 cups finely-shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese, divided
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 5-quart glass baking dish or two loaf pans with vegetable spray.
For the white mushroom sauce:
In a large heavy pot, sprinkle onions and mushrooms with salt and saute in butter over medium heat until lightly browned. Add chopped garlic and saute 1 additional minute. Sprinkle with flour and continue cooking another 2 minutes. While stirring, carefully add the white wine and cook until flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Continuing to stir, add chicken broth. Simmer until sauce begins to thicken, then add half-and-half, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer another 5 minutes, then stir in sage and thyme. Taste for salt and add more if needed. (Remember that the pasta will absorb the salt, so be generous.) Let sauce cool slightly before assembling lasagna.
For the lasagna:
Remove 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and set aside for the topping. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, then begin layering the lasagna in the following order: lasagna noodles, chicken, asparagus, roasted red peppers, sauce, and mozzarella cheese. You should have at least 4 layers, ending with the reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese on top. Finish by sprinkling the Parmesan on top of the mozzarella. (May be made in advance to this point, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day. Add 15 minutes of covered baking time if going from refrigerator to oven.)
Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid or covering and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting to serve.