This is an awesome lasagna. I’m not kidding, it’s really, really good. Unless you don’t like mushrooms, of course, in which case I can’t help you. This is all about the mushrooms. And the cheese.
I got the idea for this lasagna from a recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, but I embellished it a bit with extra cheese and a generous amount of sausage, because I tend to feel that sausage makes everything better. One technique of hers that I think is really key here is adding the porcini soaking liquid to the bechamel. It gives the creamy sauce an earthy perfume that I find irresistible.
The last time we made this we fully intended to make fresh pasta sheets, but I got tired at the last minute and pulled out some oven-ready lasagna noodles. I definitely want to try it with homemade, though, I think it would be ethereally exquisite. Or should that be exquisitely ethereal?
Mushroom Lasagna (a suggested recipe – adapt to your own taste)
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 portobello mushrooms, chopped
- 1 lb. button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 shallot or onion, chopped
- 1 pound loose pork sausage
- handful chopped parsley (optional)
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 package (or a little less) oven-ready lasagna noodles, or about a pound fresh cooked lasagna noodles
- 1 lb ricotta
- small round of mozzarella cheese, sliced
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Put the porcini in a bowl and pour about a cup of hot water over them. Let them sit while you do the sauce and filling.
Melt the butter in a heavy pot. Add the flour and whisk up well, then cook over medium heat until it gets foamy and golden. Pour in a cup of milk and whisk well, then gradually add the second cup of milk. Bring to a low simmer and cook, whisking occasionally.
Saute the pork sausage in a skillet until fully cooked and broken up. Drain off the fat.
In a large skillet, heat a few good dollops of olive oil and add the shallot. Cook until a bit soft, then add all the chopped mushrooms. Cook until soft and fragrant. Dump in the sausage and stir. Pull the porcini out of their soaking liquid (don’t get rid of it!), roughly chop, and add them to the pan as well. Stir in parsley, if using.
Add the porcini liquid to the simmering white sauce and whisk it thoroughly. The sauce should be thickening to a good gravy consistency. If it’s too thick, add more milk. When it’s a good texture, take it off the heat and build your lasagna.
Smear some sauce in the bottom of a 9″x13″ roasting pan. Lay out your noodles in the appropriate spacing (check the box instructions). Smear more sauce on, ladle on plenty of mushroom-sausage filling, then drop chunks of ricotta all over. Scatter a little mozzarella. Lay on more noodles and repeat until the pan is full. When you put on the last layer of noodles, top with more mozzarella and pour over all the remaining sauce. Cover tightly with foil. Bake about half an hour, then remove the foil and bake another ten minutes, until the lasagna is bubbling nicely and the cheese on top is just browning.
Let cool slightly before digging in. Makes great leftovers.