Individual Mushroom Lasagnas made with a mix of wild and domestic mushrooms, and a touch of cognac and 'no-boil' lasagna sheets make a perfect and warming fall meal.
Although this looks like a very lengthy recipe, it's really not time consuming (it takes longer to describe how to make it.)
Truly, it is simply a lasagna made of noodles, wild mushroom bechamel, sliced domestic mushrooms and grated cheese.
Note: The amounts given below will yield a 9 x 14-inch pan of lasagna. I roughly cut this recipe by roughly 1/4 to 1/3 to make 2 very generously sized individual lasagnas. I always err on the side of preparing a little too much sauce so I don't run short. I love garlic, thyme and parsley so I don't reduce the amounts when making only 2 individual lasagnas, (and actually increase the amounts a bit when making a full size pan.)
Wild and Mild Mushroom Lasagna
Yields one 9-inch x 14-inch pan of lasagna
(I reduce this recipe by approximately one quarter to one third to make 2 individual lasagnas)
1-2 oz dried mushrooms, soaked for 1/2 hour in 1 cup hot water
(made with 2 1/2 cups milk or half & half,
4 tablespoons butter,
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
a little freshly ground nutmeg
Salt to taste, ground white pepper to taste
stirred in after sauce has thickened
2 lbs fresh mushrooms, mixed
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons; (1/4 cup) butter
3 to 4 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, minced, plus additional for garnish
Grated Mozzarella cheese for topping
Optional: 1 tablespoon of Cognac or extra dry sherry (not cooking sherry) to deglaze mushroom pan
3/4 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for passing at the table
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
First make the Bechamel Sauce:
Melt butter over low heat. In a separate pan, (or in microwave) heat milk gently. Whisk flour into butter, stir for a few minutes to cook flour, without allowing mixture to gain color. Slowly add warm milk, still whisking. Keep whisking over low heat until smooth and thickened. Grate fresh nutmeg over and stir in. Let the sauce cook very gently over a low flame, as you continue with the recipe.
Chop the reconstituted dried mushrooms rather finely (reserving mushroom water), slice the domestic mushrooms, (keep them separate from the wild mushrooms for now).
Heat butter and olive oil (1/2 t0 1/2 proportions) in a large frying pan. Saute the chopped wild mushroom & 1/2 of the chopped garlic in the oil and butter, salt and pepper generously. Saute until most of the mushrooms are a good medium brown (this develops their flavor). Stir in the Cognac or sherry at this time, if you are using and allow to cook off for a moment or two, until the strong alcohol scent has dissipated.
At this point carefully pour in the reserved water from soaking the mushrooms, taking care not to allow any sediment (sand, etc.) to go into the frying pan. Turn up heat and stir until mushroom liquid has nearly all evaporated. Transfer the contents of the pan (chopped mushrooms and any bit of juice) to the Bechamel sauce, stir and retain over low heat; stirring occasionally; add a bit more milk or cream if sauce becomes too thick. The Bechamel will turn a deliciously looking tawny to deep brown color.
Wipe out the frying pan, heat more butter & olive oil ( 1/2 and 1/2 proportions), and saute the sliced domestic mushrooms, salt & pepper them and cook until nicely browned and liquid has evaporated. If the pan is very dry add a tablespoon or two of water or chicken broth. When mushrooms have finished cooking tossthe minced parsley in the pan, stir and set aside.
Assembling the lasagna:
Though not indicated on the box of "no-boil" lasagna noodles, I soak each noodle in a bowl of hot water for about 1 minute for this particular recipe.
Lightly oil lasagna pan, or individual baking dishes. Pour about 1/4 cup of milk or half & half into bottom of baking pan (2 tablespoons into bottom of indivdual baking dishes); this provides added moisture while baking so noodles will become tender.
For the individual lasagnas as pictured I simply make one stack of 4 or 5 layers, noodles placed directly on top of each other with the filling in between.
Assemble as follows:
Noodle, the mushroom-bechamel sauce (cover noodle completely), generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan, then arrange a few of the cooked sliced domestic mushrooms on top. Repeat layers 3 to 4 more times, ending with sauce and grated cheese. Finally sprinkle generously with grated Mozzarella.(Retain a few sliced mushrooms for garnish, after removing the lasagnas from the oven if desired.)
Cover baking dishes with foil (not resting directly on the lasagna ingredients, but rather ballooned on top and sealed around the edges), and bake in a 350-degree (F) oven for approximately 45 minutes. I check at 30 minutes, then watch carefully from that time forward. Sauce should be bubbling vigorously, and all layers of noodles should be tender when pierced with a toothpick or tip of sharp knife.
Allow lasagnas to rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional thyme sprigs, minced parsley, and reserved sliced mushrooms if desired.
Additional notes: This is excellent if assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. When ready to bake, leave at room temperature for about 1 hour (if your schedule allows), then bake as directed, increasing baking time as necessary to compensate for refrigerated temperature. Just make sure sauce is bubbling and noodles are tender all the way through when pierced with a toothpick or tip of a sharp knife.
A perfect warm and comforting meal for a chilly Autumn day. Enjoy!