Layering Season

Dinner:  November 12, 2007

We took a break from our duck cycle last night for a meatless Monday dinner of mushroom lasagna. Last night was damp and chilly, and while this wasn’t exactly a quick and easy weeknight dinner, it was a perfect night for a rich, baked and layered pasta dish. This was a bit of an experiment; my standard lasagna is a more traditional Bolognese version and I wasn’t really working from a recipe here, so while it needs a bit of tweaking I was mostly pleased with the result. I started by soaking some dried porcinis and slicing about a pound of fresh mushrooms (a mixture of criminis, chanterelles and shiitakes). I sautéed some chopped shallot in a mixture of butter and olive oil until soft, and then added the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. When the mushrooms had browned and cooked down a bit, I added a tablespoon of tomato paste to the pan to caramelize, then stirred it through and added the liquid I had strained and reserved from soaking the dried porcini. I added a generous amount of fresh thyme and let the mixture cook until almost all of the liquid was gone, then transferred the mushrooms to a bowl and set them aside.

'shrooms

I made a béchamel in the same pan I had used to cook the mushrooms, enriching it with about a cup each of finely grated Fontina and Parmagiano Reggiano cheeses. When the cheeses were melted and the sauce was smooth, I began layering: a bit of olive oil rubbed in the bottom and sides of my baking dish, a bit of béchamel, and a layer of partially cooked egg pasta sheets, then béchamel, mushrooms, sliced fresh mozzarella and another layer of pasta. I repeated the layers, finishing with the remaining béchamel, mozzarella, and a grating of parm on top, then placed the lasagna into a preheated 400 degree oven for about half an hour, until browned and bubbly. I let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

I wasn’t entirely pleased with the texture of the pasta sheets I used, and I think the dish could have used a bit more béchamel than I made, but overall, the flavors were there and this was a tasty and satisfying meal – it’s definitely a recipe worth working on.

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7 thoughts on “Layering Season

  1. I really miss chanterelles; I haven’t found them since I moved away from San Francisco. I didn’t find them in Reno, and I haven’t found them here in Phoenix. I haven’t been looking TOO hard though, because my boyfriend hates mushrooms.

    I’ve been craving a good mushroom risotto… I’ll have to start my search again.

  2. What a great week of posts; it’s like there’s another jam session down the road that’s playing the same tunes, but differently, and with the same reckless, decadent (and efficient) abandon. Awesome.

    PS I’m not such a fan of their prices, but Whole Foods does have an amazing mushroom selection. They have those in AZ, right?

  3. Jennifer Hess says:

    Peter – how funny, I was just at your site and swooning at your gorgeous sous vide hanger steak dinner (among other things). Happy belated birthday!

  4. Jennifer,
    Once again you are over the top. This looks so divine. I bought some chanterelles a couple of days ago and now know what to do with them. As usual, you rock!!!

  5. Jeff says:

    Toni, Whole Foods market usually carries Chanterelles year round. The price might make you wince, but it’s a heck of way to spurge.

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