Mushroom lasagna is a classic I’ve been making for years, but I noticed I had never published it on the blog yet. It is a great dish to indulge, rich yet elegant. Its components are fresh homemade spinach pasta, funghi trifolati (mushrooms sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley), white sauce, and plenty of parmigiano. Before I tell you how to make this tasty dish, a word about cleaning mushrooms.
Manufacturers of mushroom brushes have started a rumor to help sell more of their brushes, that mushrooms should on no account be washed with water, because then they would soak up all the water and become ‘water logged’ and tasteless. To test this theory, let us weigh a mushroom with an accurate pair of scales. This one is 27.10 grams.
Here I am washing it under cold running water. A bit more than you would actually need. The good thing about using water is that it is easier and definitely a lot faster to remove all the dirt.
After rinsing, I dried the mushroom with a paper towel.
Then I weighed it again, and now it was 28.20 grams. So the mushroom absorbed 1.1 gram of water, or about 4% of the original weight. If you think you can taste or otherwise notice that difference, please use a mushroom brush and painstakingly brush mushrooms to clean them. If not, join me in using water. Just don’t let them soak in water, because then they would absorb more water then you’d like.
For 4 servings as a substantial primo piatto
For the funghi trifolati
500 grams (1.1 lbs) cremini mushrooms (chestnut mushrooms)
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the white sauce (besciamella)
750 ml (3 cups) milk
75 grams (1/2 cup) flour
75 grams (5 1/2 Tbsp) butter
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the spinach pasta
50 grams (1.8 oz) fresh spinach
50 grams (5 Tbsp) semolina flour
50 grams (5 Tbsp) 00 flour
plenty of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Preparation of the funghi trifolati
Clean the mushrooms, trim the stems and slice them thickly.
Sauté the mushrooms in a non-stick frying pan over high heat in plenty of olive oil.
Sauté them in batches, so they brown quickly. If you crowd the pan, the mushrooms will boil instead in the juices released by them.
Drain the sautéed mushrooms on kitchen paper.
After the last batch, turn off the heat and discard all but half a tablespoon of olive oil. Then and add garlic and parsley.
Stir over low heat until the garlic starts to color, but don’t let it brown!
Now add all the mushrooms, and stir until they are coated all over with the garlic and parsley. Turn off the heat.
Preparation of the spinach pasta
Instructions for white sauce
Melt 75 grams butter in a saucepan.
Meanwhile, heat up 750 ml of milk in another saucepan or the microwave. Just make it hot, it should not boil. It is hot enough when bubbles appear along the edge.
Add 75 grams of flour.
Stir over low heat for a couple of minutes.
Now add the hot milk all at once. Not slowly!
Immediately whisk energetically. This technique of adding hot milk all at once and whisking quickly is much quicker and easier to avoid lumps compared to adding cold milk slowly while stirring.
Bring the sauce to a boil over medium high heat, stirring. Turn off the heat as soon as the sauce has thickened.
Season the white sauce with a dash of freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
Instructions to assemble the lasagna
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Butter a 20 cm (8 inch) square oven dish. Put a bit of white sauce on the bottom.
Cover with spinach pasta, cut to size.
Season the mushrooms to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Do this at the last minute to prevent the mushrooms from shrinking.)
Cover the pasta with a scarce layer of funghi trifolati.
Sprinkle generously with freshly grated parmigiano.
Now cover with white sauce.
Repeat with pasta, mushrooms, cheese, white sauce, etc. until you run out of mushrooms.
Cover the last layer of mushrooms with pasta and white sauce.
Sprinkle the top generously with freshly grated parmigiano, and dot with butter.
Bake the lasagna at 200C/400F until the top is golden brown and it is bubbly hot, about half an hour.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Pancetta is easy to make at home if you have the patience and a suitable space to cure it (that is about 16C/60F) like my garage, and it tastes so much better than store-bought.