Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Creamy Mushroom Lasagne

I just love shrooms, and love to invent dishes dedicated to this adored ingredient of mine... I whipped up this lasagne on a whim, and turned out to be a big hit! :-D The description became a little long and ended up looking complicated, but if you ever made a regular lasagne, the method is pretty much the same... just the difference of using mushroom mixture instead of tomato based meat sauce. Warning: like so many of my recipes, the exact amount of ingredients were never measured... they are all approximate, so please prepared to be a little flexible! (I am sure if you are interested in this recipe, you wouldn't mind a little extra mushrooms, or cheese or bechamel, so better to be on the generous side :-) )


Egg based lasagna sheets: about 400g, or enough to cover 20cmx30cm (8x12 in.) baking dish in 4 layers. Fresh ones are ideal (especially home made!), but you can also use certain type of dry sheets, for example Barilla "oven ready" http://www.barillaus.com/Home/Pages/Lasagne_OvenReady.aspx.

2 large onions, or 3 smaller ones, finely chopped
800g-1kg button mushrooms (champignons), thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
3 generous tablespoons of butter
dash of majoram
dash of oregano
generous fistful of fresh flat leaved parsley, chopped (optional)
salt & pepper

250-300g solid mozzarella (the kind generally used for pizzas, sold in larger block or log, not the pure white moist ones conserved in liquid), diced or thinly sliced*

500ml+ bechamel sauce (Packaged Bechamel can be found ready to use in supermarkets, but it is also fairly easy to whip up. recipe is listed below!) **

60-80g freshly grated parmigiano or grana padano


1. In a large skillet melt the butter, add the onions, mushrooms and garlic, season with the majoram, oregano and s+p. Cover and simmer on a moderate heat, stirring occasionally.
Continue to cook until onions and mushrooms are completely softened.
By keeping the cover on you will extract the liquid to cover the bottom of the baking dish. If it gets too watery, remove the cover and let it evaporate.

2. Line a 20x30cm baking dish (or 8x12 in... normal rectangular size?) with a wax paper as neatly as possible. Or you can generously butter the surface alternatively.

3. Scoop out the liquid from the mushroom mixture, and generously and thoroughly wet the bottom of the dish.

4. Lay the first sheet of the lasagna pasta sheet.

5. Spread some of the mushroom mixture evenly on the surface (keeping in mind the shroom layers going to be repeated 3 times)

6. then sprinkle over the mozzarella cubes/slices. considering the cheese will melt and spread out, you don't need to cover the surface entirely. (you are going to run out of the cheese way too early!) sort of dot them over the mushrooms as evenly as possible.

7. sprinkle a little bechamele over, again sort of dot them around, otherwise you will get a lasagna swimming in bechamelle "soup"!

Repeat the procedure from 4. to 7. 2 more times.

8. Now Pour the bechamelle this time generously over the surface, making sure you will cover every corner of the pasta so it won't dry out in the process of cooking.

9. Cover the baking dish tightly with a foil and bake in the oven at 180°C/350°F for 30min.

10. Take out the dish and remove the foil. Turn up the oven to 210°C/425°F. Sprinkle generously with the grated parmigiano/grana padano.

11. Return the lasagne in the oven, bake for another 10-15min. or until the surface becomes golden brown.

*if the right kind of mozzarella can not be found, you could use a good quality ricotta, or other type of cheese that melts well with the heat, such as provola, fontina, gouda, emmental etc.

**Bechamel sauce
50g butter
500ml whole milk (room temp.)
50g flour
pinch of nutmeg (optional)

melt the butter in a double boiler on a medium heat.
vigorously whisk the milk and flour together until smooth.
add the milk/flour mixture into the double boiler and stir well.
season with a little salt and nutmeg
Stir often in order to keep the texture smooth, and continue to cook until the mixture attains a desired density.

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