Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mushroom Lasagna

When I told my niece, Jackie, that I was invited to have dinner with friends at a local, trendy restaurant, she suggested I order the Blueberry Lasagna.  Although it sounded more like a dessert than a meal, she revealed that I would be in for a pleasant surprise.  When the lasagna arrived to the table, it was actually a mushroom lasagna with béchamel sauce, similar to one I have been making for years, that sat on a small puddle of blueberry sauce.  I must admit this was a nice addition and I wish I would have thought of it myself.  Whether you scape the plate with Blueberry Sauce or not, this Wild Mushroom Lasagna is worth taking the time to make.
My friend Michael believes I need to write a cookbook called “Straight From the Freezer,” because I have learned a way to successfully freeze almost everything.  When I say “successfully freeze,” it means that I can freeze, defrost and serve meals from my freezer that you would swear were freshly cooked.  This lasagna is another one of those dishes that I prepare in small casserole dishes and keep in the freezer for last minute meals.

Béchamel Ingredients:
§     1 stick butter
§     1/2 cup flour
§     4 cups milk
§     1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
§     1/4 cup dry sherry
§     1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
§     Kosher Salt

Mushroom Lasagna Ingredients:
§     1 Box no-cook lasagna noodles
§     2 pounds of assorted mushrooms
§     3  tablespoons olive oil
§     3  tablespoons unsalted butter
§     1 cup parmesan cheese
§     Fresh Thyme


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the Béchamel, begin with a roux. In a large pot, melt the butter. When butter is melted, add the flour and whisk together over medium-low heat for a minute or two just to get the raw taste out of the flour.  For this light colored dish, we do not want to brown the roux.
While whisking, add the milk and continue to cook until thick and smooth. To speed up the process, I sometimes pour the milk into a heat resistant cup and warm in the microwave before adding it to the roux.  Once the white sauce is thick and smooth, lower the heat and add the Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg and my secret ingredient, dry sherry. Sherry is another one of those fortified wines I buy in the local liquor store which is very inexpensive and will last in the pantry.  Remove the béchamel from the heat and set to the side.
Chop the mushrooms in the food processor.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the chopped mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms release their juices. Set the mushrooms aside. 
To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the béchamel sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish.

Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and sprinkle with fresh Thyme. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms and Parmesan.
Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot.
Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot. For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Mushroom Lasagna. Enjoy!

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