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Mushroom Lasagna for the Changing of the Season

Mushroom Lasagna with Gorgonzola

Do you feel it? Something’s changed. It may still be hot, but there’s something in the air. Even in Los Angeles you can feel the subtle shift, as summer turns to autumn. The days seem bluer and the nights last a little longer. The light has taken on a lovely lower angle in the sky. With the change of season, something’s changed with me and my kitchen habits too, so I made Mushroom Lasagna with Gorgonzola Sauce to celebrate.

I found this recipe among my mother’s cooking notes. She credits it to Susan Wyler, so I assume she adapted it from a 1980s issue of Food & Wine magazine. It’s just the kind of long kitchen project my mother favored. Exactly where, or how much she adapted from the magazine I do not know. My version is handwritten by my mother on lined paper, torn from a spiral notebook. I found it slipped into a 1980s cookbook by Martha Stewart. The sheet of paper seemed to be acting as a bookmark for page 168, where a recipe for Watercress Endive Salad can be found. So I’m going to further assume that my mom served this Mushroom Lasagna with that salad. I know I’m assuming a lot about this recipe and I haven’t even gotten to the recipe yet. But as far as I remember my mother never made this particular lasagna for me. You see, I spent most of the 1980s eating anywhere other than my mother’s table (ah, youth). In fact by 1985 I was living in California, and had only just begun to realize how much I missed my mother’s cooking.

So on the first Sunday after I sensed the change in the air, I spent a lazy day making this rather elaborate Mushroom Lasagna. It’s quite a project, I’m not denying that. But it can be made ahead, and it can even be frozen. Making it a terrifically impressive dinner party dish. Serve it with a Watercress Endive Salad, like my mom probably did. The guests will be impressed by how breezily you present such an elegant looking lasagna.

I really should say such a noble looking lasagna, because the most striking thing about this Mushroom Lasagna is its proud bearing. It stands up straight, rather than ooze all over the plate like the gloopy, cheesy pasta feasts I’d been eating in the 1980s “anywhere other than my mother’s table.” GREG

Mushroom Lasagna Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom Lasagna with Gorgonzola Mornay Sauce

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8–12Source Adapted from Susan Wyler, Food & WinePublished
Mushroom Lasagna with Gorgonzola Mornay Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 ½ cup boiling water
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter (divided) plus more for baking dish
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
  • 1 pound fresh cremini or baby bella mushrooms (wiped clean and trimmed)
  • 2 large shallots (peeled, minced and divided)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (divided)
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • ½ pound fresh shitake mushrooms (wiped clean and trimmed)
  • 12 dried lasagna noodles
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ pound crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • ¼ cup (plus 2 tablespoons) grated Parmasan cheese

Directions

Prepare the dried mushrooms and broth. In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with 1 ½ cup boiling water; set aside to soften, about 30 minutes. Drain then roughly chop mushrooms reserving about 1‑cup of the resulting mushroom broth; set both aside separately.

Prepare the duxelles: Using a food processor or a chef’s knife finely chop cremini or baby bella mushrooms into 1/8‑inch pieces. In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add half the minced shallots, cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped cremini or baby bella mushrooms and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms exude their liquid and then become nearly dry. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, season with salt, black pepper, cayenne and tarragon. Set aside. This mushroom preparation is known as duxelles.

Prepare the shitake mushrooms and assemble the mushroom filling: Thinly slice the shitake mushrooms. In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add remaining shallots cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the sliced shitake mushrooms and cook stirring often, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat and cook until softened, about 3 more minutes. Add the reserved reconstituted dried mushrooms and ½ cup of the reserved mushroom broth, and simmer partially covered, until the mushrooms are nearly tender but still chewy, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the duxelles and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; season with salt and black pepper. The mushroom mixture can be made up to a few days ahead of assembling and baking the lasagna. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Prepare the pasta: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water then spread the pasta noodles flat on the clean towels to dry.

Meanwhile, make the gorgonzola Mornay sauce: Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour, whisking to combine well. Cook for 2–3 minutes over medium heat to cook the flour slightly, whisking. Do not let it brown. Gradually whisk in the remaining ½ cup of mushroom broth, milk and cream, and bring the mixture nearly to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick. Remove from the heat. Add the gorgonzola cheese and ¼ c of Parmesan cheese and stir until smooth. Season with a pinch of cayenne and salt, to taste. Set aside in a warm place.

Assemble and bake the lasagna: Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 13-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on the bottom of the dish, overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the mushroom mixture over the noodles and spoon on ⅓ of the warm Mornay sauce on top, spreading it evenly. Cover with another layer of noodles, remaining mushroom mixture and half of the remaining Mornay sauce. Top with the final layer of noodles. Spread the remaining sauce even;y across the top; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven, set aside to cool about 15 minutes before serving.