2000s Recipes + Menus

Wild Mushroom Lasagne

Serves12 (first course) or 8 (main course)
  • Active time:1 1/4 hr
  • Start to finish:2 1/2 hr
February 2005
Earthy porcinis with tart tomatoes in a creamy sauce make for a vegetarian appetizer or main course that even meat-eaters might love.

For Béchamel sauce

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk, heated
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For mushroom tomato sauce

  • 2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 (14- to 15-oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For assembling lasagne

  • 12 long ruffle-edged dried lasagne noodles (not no-boil)
  • 5 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 3/4 cups; see cooks' notes, below)

Make béchamel:

  • Heat butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat until melted, then add flour and cook roux over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add hot milk in a fast stream, whisking vigorously, and whisk in garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes, then remove garlic and add pepper.

Make mushroom tomato sauce:

  • Pour boiling-hot water over porcini in a bowl and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift out porcini, squeezing excess liquid back into bowl, then rinse to remove any grit. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel into another bowl. Chop porcini and add to soaking liquid.
  • Cook onion in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes, then stir in tomatoes with juice, sugar, porcini with soaking liquid, and 1 tablespoon basil. Simmer, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down into a chunky sauce, about 25 minutes. Stir in salt and remaining tablespoon basil.

Assemble and bake lasagne:

  • Cook lasagne noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water 8 minutes (noodles will not be cooked through), then drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water.
  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Spread 1 cup béchamel on bottom of a buttered 13- by 9-inch baking dish, reserving remainder for last layer. Drain 3 lasagne noodles in 1 layer on a kitchen towel and arrange over béchamel in baking dish. Spread pasta in dish evenly with one third of mushroom tomato sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat layering of pasta, mushroom tomato sauce, and cheese twice, then cover with last 3 lasagne noodles. Spread remaining béchamel on top and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, until lasagne is bubbling and top is browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes before cutting.
Cooks’ notes:
  • To finely grate Parmigiano-Reggiano and similar cheeses, use the small (1/8-inch) teardrop-shaped holes (not the ragged-edged holes) of a box or similar handheld grater. Other shaped holes, a Microplane rasp, and pregrated cheese yield different volumes.
  • Béchamel and mushroom tomato sauces can be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled separately, covered. Bring sauces to room temperature before using.
  • You can assemble lasagne 1 day ahead and chill, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.
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