I love lasagna in all shapes and forms, everything from classic meat to roast pumpkin. I’d never tried a mushroom lasagna before though, and now I have, it might be my new favourite. This is a recipe I adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I’ve made quite a few changes to the original recipe mainly by doubling the amount of mushrooms, including gruyere cheese and adding garlic to the sautéed mushrooms. The other change I made was to infuse the milk used in the white sauce with some dried porcini which amplifies the mushroom flavour even more. Try to use a variety of mushrooms. I used shitake, oyster, shimeji, enoki as well as some button mushrooms. If you live in an area where fresh chanterelles or girolles are available this would be a great time to use them. This is a substantial enough dish to serve on it’s own with a salad but if you’re feeding a large number of people this pairs well with veal and chicken mains. The other benefit is that it freezes well and can be made a few days in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to bake. In fact I think it tastes even better if it can be made ahead and left to sit and settle for a while before it’s baked.
Ingredients – makes 1 large tray, enough to feed at least 6-8 Adapted from Ina Garten
Dried lasagna sheets – not the oven ready variety
4 cups whole milk
100g unsalted butter, plus 3 good size knobs
¼ cup plain flour
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
20g dried porcini mushrooms
1½ kg mixed mushrooms – I used shitake, oyster, shimeji, enoki and button mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic, minced through a garlic press
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup grated gruyere
Preheat the oven to 180C. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook according to package instructions, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside. I found it easiest to place them on a tray that had been sprayed with olive oil spray, make sure to spray in between layers as well. For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the porcini, cover and let the milk infuse for 10 minutes. Melt 100g of butter in a large saucepan. To save on dishes I used the same pan the pasta was boiled in. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the milk through a strainer into the butter-flour mixture all at once, reserving the porcini. Add 1½ teaspoons salt, some black pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat. Slice the mushrooms. Heat 1 tablespoons of oil and A knob of butter in a large fry pan. When the butter melts, add one third of the mushrooms, 1 clove of garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender, releasing some of their juices and just starting to brown. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside. Add the reserved porcini mushrooms to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently to combine.
To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of lasagna dish. Arrange a layer of the lasagna sheets on top, then more sauce, then ⅓ of the mushrooms, ¼ cup grated parmesan and ¼ cup grated gruyere. Repeat 2 more times, layering lasagna sheets, sauce, mushrooms, parmesan and gruyere. Top with a final layer of lasagna sheets and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and gruyere. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.