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.
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.