I recently had a birthday and I think the only thing I’ll remember from it is the fact that I made and ate this mushroom lasagna on that day.
I don’t think that I’ll remember eating Eggo waffles (waffles from a box – for shame!) for breakfast. I probably won’t remember what time I woke up or if we even had any cake or what the heck I did with my day.
But I will always remember this mushroom lasagna because it was just the right way to celebrate 26 years. And of course, I’ll remember sharing my birthday, as I always do, with close family and friends who popped over to surprise me and hang out for the night playing the games of my choice. All in all, in my books – a wonderful birthday.
Back to the lasagna though – this mushroom lasagna is one of those dishes that tastes great the day it’s made and only gets better with age. The last day of leftovers , about three days after it was made, was the best that it tasted. All the flavours just seemed to get deeper and richer by the day. It’s rich – very rich – so rich that you’ll be satisfied with having a smaller piece than you would regularly eat and it will keep you satisfied for just the same amount of time.
All that being said though, this mushroom lasagna is definitely not a weeknight meal. The steps are not complicated but there are a lot of them and the layering of the lasagna, at least for me, took a while.
But it is absolutely, positively, hands-down, the best lasagna I have ever eaten. Given a choice between this mushroom lasagna and a meat lasagna I would pick this one in a heartbeat. And, all of my surprise dinner guests were in consensus on the verdict for this dish – it was a definite winner – they went back for seconds and some even went back for thirds.
It’s definitely worthy of a birthday meal and would be pretty darn worthy of a spot on your Valentine’s day menu or even your next dinner party. It’s meant to be shared and due to its richness can feed far more than the “6-8 servings” listed in the book.
Mushroom Lasagna Recipe
Recipe type: Main
Four kinds of mushrooms are combined with a rich béchamel sauce to create a perfectly cheesy vegetarian lasagna worthy of a special occasion.Ingredients
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 3/4 lbs mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced if large (I used a mix of shitake, oyster, cremini and white button mushrooms)
- 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- salt and white pepper
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/3 cups milk
- 13 fl oz ricotta
- 1 large egg
- 5 oz feta, crumbled
- 6 oz Gruyère, grated
- 1 lb dried spinach lasagna
- 5 oz fontina cheese (or mozzarella), grated
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Melt the first amount of butter in a large heavy-based saucepan. When foaming, add the thyme and fresh mushrooms. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened and exuded some of their liquid, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the tarragon, parsley and salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the second amount butter and shallot and cook on medium heat for about a minute. Add the flour and continue cooking, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. The mixture will turn into a paste but do not let it colour much. Gradually whisk in the milk and 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue whisking until boiling. Simmer on low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickish and then remove from heat.
- In a small bowl mix together the ricotta and egg, then fold in 3 tablespoons of the béchamel and the feta. Add the Gruyère to the remaining béchamel in the pan and stir well to get your main sauce.
- Heat a large pot of water until boiling and then pour over the lasagna noodles (a few at a time so they don’t stick together) and soak for 2 minutes. Remove and dry the noodles on a tea towel.
- To assemble the lasagna, pour one-quarter of the sauce over the bottom of an ovenproof dish that is about 10 x 14 inches. Cover with one-quarter of the lasagna noodles. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture on top, scatter with one-third of the mushrooms and sprinkle one-third of the fontina (or mozzarella). Make two more layers in the same way and then finish with a layer of pasta covered with sauce.
- Sprinkle Parmesan on top and cover loosely with foil (don’t lay it directly on the surface of the lasagna). Bake for 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling around the sides. Life off the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the top is golden (I set the oven to broil for a few minutes). Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I found the instructions quite confusing when layering the lasagna. The original instructions said to divide the sauce into one-fifth and all other ingredients, one-quarter. However, I found I only had enough noodles to divide them into 4 layers, which meant I would be short the last layer with the cheese on top. I had to combine the last layers of mushrooms, ricotta and fontina so that I could have a last layer of pasta and béchamel. I have changed the directions above to what I would do next time.