Just this week we needed to put together a main for a dinner involving a moderate number of people. Say, about 12-16. We wanted it to be really tasty, pretty easy to put together, and we wanted a hot dish that would travel well. Hmm. In the past, we’ve had good luck with Mushroom Lasagna, so we’d bring it out for this group and see if it would go over well.
Right up front, you should know this is not a lasagna based on a red sauce. Instead, it uses a white sauce infused with a bit of nutmeg, which complements the mushroom flavor without washing it out (too many tomato sauces overpower the taste of mushrooms), making it taste vaguely as if a Swedish and an Italian chef collaborated, one making the sauce, the other the mushrooms and pasta, and neither had any idea what the other was doing. But, don’t let that put you off; the combination works, and works well. It has become one of our favorites.
We got this recipe years ago from a co-worker when we mentioned that we were looking for a good dish for a potluck, he immediately pointed us to the Food Network recipe for Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, and we’ve used that, with some changes below. We had to boost the amount and add a variety of mushrooms and remove some of the salt. It’s better this way. Trust us.
Since we made this for a group, we made two 9×13 inch pans of lasagna and that’s what the photos will show, but the ingredient list will be for one pan of lasagna.
Makes a 9×13-inch pan.
- 3 tsp Kosher salt (divided)
- 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 batches basic pasta (or egg-less pasta), rolled out into lasagna sheets
- 4 cups whole milk
- 12 Tbs (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (divided)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly ground is ideal)
- 18 ounces Portobello mushrooms (6 large caps)
- 8 ounces Crimini mushroom
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Grana Pardano preferred)
You should really consider going to the effort of making your own pasta. We did, and it makes a difference, especially with dishes based on a white sauce, since it’s milder and will let the home-scratched pasta shine. If you really want to substitute store-bought pasta, a 12-ounce package is sufficient. As for mushrooms, the Portobellos have a really nice woodsy flavor, so you definitely need those (although Porcinis would work), and the Criminis help fill in the smaller gaps when you’re layering. Finally, use a high quality Parmesan cheese; you aren’t using very much cheese (about 4 ounces makes a cup), so you want a cheese that will crank up the flavor!
Prepare Mushrooms. Clean and slice mushrooms to about 1/4-inch thickness. You want to have some substance in these mushrooms, so that they’ll stand out.
Cook mushrooms. You want to do this in two batches. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Once the butter has melted, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, and cook over medium heat until the mushrooms have released their juices and cooked through. Transfer to a bowl, and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Set aside.
Make a roux. As with all cream sauces, you need to make a roux, which is basically equal parts flour and oil cooked together for a few minutes. Melt remaining (1 stick) butter In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour.
Cook roux. Stirring constantly with a whisk, cook the roux until the flour-butter mixture starts to bubble. While whisking, cook an extra minute.
Add milk. While whisking constantly, add the milk in three additions, starting with about a cup, then another cup, then the remaining 2 cups. Doing it this way will prevent your roux from lumping and eliminates the need to preheat the milk in a separate pan, saving on clean up time.
Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Once you’ve added all the milk, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, and the nutmeg.
Whisk. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the cream sauce thickens and bubbles. Depending on how cold the milk was, this may take 15-20 minutes. Once thickened, set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Boil pasta. If you’re using home-scratched pasta sheets, boil about 4 quarts of water that is lightly salted (the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt) and oiled (about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent the sheets from sticking together), and cook the sheets for about 2 minutes. If you’re using store-bought pasta, follow package directions.
Assemble lasagna. Spread some of the cream sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of pasta, then more sauce, then about 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Follow this with two more layers of pasta, sauce, mushrooms, and cheese. Top with a final layer of pasta, the remaining sauce, and the remaining cheese.
Bake. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly all the way through and the top is lightly browned.
Let settle. Once baked through, remove from the oven and let settle for about 15 minutes before serving.
Enjoy. Dish up and enjoy this delicious lasagna and those rave reviews, knowing that you scratched it up right in your kitchen. Oh, if you use this for a potluck, bring a copy or two of the recipe. Someone will ask.
As we said, this is one of our favorite lasagnas, but we don’t make it all that often as it does use a lot of butter and whole milk (it’s NOT low-calorie, that’s for sure), but it is so tasty we think that even people who don’t like mushrooms might like this dish. Five stars.