Tag Archives: lasagna

Feast for Funghi Fanatics

A glorious meat-free dish that contains four types of mushroom and two types of cheese which lend it the most satisfying, and savory intensity. They claim there’s a fair amount of heat in this Spicy Mushroom Lasagna, but we beg to differ, we could barely detect any heat. However, if you feel the need to tone it down a bit, reduce the amount of pepper and omit the chili altogether.

The mushrooms are the star here and their flavor truly shines. Those layers of flavor and umami build on each other with each delicious bite. Yes, quite a LOT of time and effort is necessary, as it is prep- and ingredient-intense, yet the result is well worth your effort. To get ahead, build the lasagna one day, chill, then bake the next.

One reviewer wrote “The umami factor here was really off the charts. To me it was one of those rare recipes in which all the ingredients sound good by themselves and smell wonderful when cooking, but when brought together, the finished product is head and shoulders above the individual parts.” We have to agree…

You will be dehydrating the fresh mushrooms and rehydrating the dried mushrooms, then mixing them altogether to obtain a very tasty, meaty consistency. While the original recipe called for only two plum tomatoes, we decided to double that and added in 4 large. Paired with a side salad and a glass of wine, it was the perfect Sunday evening meal.

Spicy Mushroom Lasagna

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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For the fresh mushrooms

  • 26 oz. cremini or baby bella mushrooms halved
  • 18 oz. oyster mushrooms or other wild mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. table salt

For the dried mushrooms

  • 2 1/4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 oz. dried wild mushrooms or dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 dried red chili peppers roughly chopped (seeded if desired)
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. hot vegetable stock

For the filling

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper plus more as desired
  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • 9 Tbsp. heavy cream (just a touch more than 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup pecorino, finely grated
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus 1 tsp.
  • 12 oz. oven-ready dried lasagna sheets (about 14 sheets)


Roast the fresh mushrooms

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, working in 3 or 4 batches, add the button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms and pulse each batch until finely chopped (or finely chop everything by hand). Avoid filling the processor bowl more than halfway so that the mushrooms are finely chopped and not over processed.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the chopped mushrooms with the oil and salt. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Roast near the top of the oven, stirring 3 or so times throughout, until the mushrooms are golden brown and have reduced in volume significantly, 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Decrease the oven temperature to 425°F.

Rehydrate the dried mushrooms

  1. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all the dried mushrooms, the chiles, and hot stock, and let soak for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid into another bowl, squeezing as much liquid from the mushrooms as possible to get just under 1 1/2 cups—if you have any less, top up with water.
  2. Very roughly chop the rehydrated mushrooms (you want some chunks) and finely chop the chili peppers. Set the stock and mushrooms aside separately.

Make the filling

  1. In the food processor, combine the onion, garlic, and carrot, and pulse until finely chopped or finely chop everything by hand.
  2. In a large sauté pan or pot over medium-high heat, warm 4 tablespoons oil. Once hot, add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8 minutes.
  3. In the food processor, pulse the tomatoes until finely chopped or finely chop by hand and then add them to the pan along with the tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes.
  4. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and chiles and the roasted mushrooms and cook for 9 minutes, stirring only once during the cooking. Resist the urge to stir more frequently; you want the mushrooms to be slightly crisp and browned on the bottom.
  5. Stir in the water and reserved stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until you get the consistency of a ragù, about 25 minutes.
  6. Stir in 7 tablespoons of the cream and simmer for 2 minutes more, then remove from the heat.
  7. In a small bowl, combine both cheeses, the basil, and 1/2 cup parsley.
  8. Spread 1/5 of the sauce in the bottom of a round 12-inch baking dish or a 9-by-13-inch rectangular dish, then top with 1/5 of the cheese mixture, followed by a layer of lasagna sheets, broken to fit where necessary. Repeat these layers 3 more times in that order. Finish with a final layer of sauce and cheese; that’s 5 layers of sauce, 5 layers of cheese, and 4 layers of pasta.
  9. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon cream and 1 tablespoon olive oil, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 450°F, and bake for 12 minutes more, rotating the dish halfway through.
  10. Turn the oven to the broil setting and broil until the edges are brown and crisp, about 2 minutes.
  11. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes or so, then drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon cream and 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with the 1 teaspoon parsley and finish with a good grind of pepper. Serve immediately.


Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage

Lasagna Bolognese

A cool, rainy Sunday during the COVID-19 lockdown—perfect for us to spend time together cooking in the kitchen. While The Mr. made his homemade chicken stock, I started assembling this wonderful Lasagna Bolognese recipe by Diane Unger, found in an issue of Milk Street Magazine.

A slice of the mouth-watering Lasagna Bolognese after sitting
for 30 minutes and topped with a mixture of grated
Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheeses.

Yes, it is time-intensive, but it makes enough ragù for the lasagna with plenty of leftovers for another night’s pasta dinner. And given all of the statistical data showing most of this country still in lockdown, time is one thing you do have plenty of (unless of course you’re one of the heroes out there keeping this country safe and operational).

The velvety besciamella was simply awesome! You can make it ahead of time and rewarm it when assembling the casserole. It’s amazing how light this lasgana was considering all of the meat. But in retrospect, there’s really not a lot of cheese—just the 3 ounces in the white sauce, along with any you sprinkle on as a garnish.

Try to purchase pancetta in a large chunk from the deli counter, and if it comes in casing-like plastic, make sure to remove and discard the wrap before use. The next best option is packaged already diced pancetta; if pre-sliced is the only option, it will work, but will cost a lot more and requires less time in the food processor.

Don’t trim the fat from the beef and pork. The fat makes the ragù rich and supple, and carries the flavors of the other ingredients. Don’t process the beef and pork too finely; a coarse grind yields the best-textured sauce. It may seem a bit thin after the long braise, but don’t fret because a bit of powdered gelatin gives the ragù a rich, velvety body that otherwise would require an even lengthier simmer to achieve.

We went a step further and bought bone-in short-ribs, cutting the meat off the bones, then tossing those bones in with the ground meats to simmer for 3 hours.

You may wonder why not just used already crushed canned tomatoes instead of going through the step of blending canned whole tomatoes in a food processor. The simple answer? Whole tomatoes are generally sold peeled, in either juice or puree. This is usually the highest quality tomato product. Crushed tomatoes are a mixture of diced tomatoes and tomato puree or paste. Furthermore, crushed tomatoes are unpredictable. With some brands they’re crushed almost to a purée, while other brands might still have big chunks.

You’ve probably run into bare shelves at the grocery store during these crazy times. Well, when I was shopping for this recipe, almost the entire selection of pasta was gone! There were two boxes of lasgana, (not the no-bake variety as indicated below), so I grabbed one and made the best of it. If you are fortunate enough to get them, don’t use the noodles without first soaking them. Unsoaked noodles absorb moisture from both the ragù and besciamella, leaving the lasagna too dry. But don’t soak them for longer than 10 minutes.

Enjoy, then enjoy again!

Lasagna Bolognese

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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To make the lasagna:

  • 12 No-boil 6½-by-3½-inch lasagna noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 Cups ragù bolognese, warmed (see recipe below)
  • 3 Cups parmesan besciamella, warmed (see recipe below)
  • Finely grated parmesan and/or Pecorino-Romano cheese, to serve


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
  2. Place the noodles in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then add hot water to cover, along with the oil and 1 Tbsp. salt; swish the noodles around to dissolve the salt. Let stand for 10 minutes, moving the noodles around halfway through to ensure they do not stick together.
  3. Remove the noodles from the water and arrange in a single layer on a kitchen towel; pat dry with paper towels. Wipe out the baking dish.
  4. Distribute 2 cups ragù evenly in the baking dish, then place 3 noodles in a single layer on top.
  5. Spread ¼ cup besciamella onto each noodle, all the way to the edges. Pour 1 cup ragù on top and spread evenly.
  6. Repeat the layering 3 more times, using the remaining noodles, besciamella and ragù, then cover the baking dish tightly with foil.
  7. Bake until the edges of the lasagna are bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack, uncover and cool for about 30 minutes.
  9. Cut into pieces and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Our lasagna pan was filled to the brim and we knew it would probably overflow so we set the casserole dish on a rimmed baking sheet. We also neglected to cover the dish with tinfoil before cooking it in the oven. It was done perfectly after 35 minutes, even without the foil!


Parmesan Besciamella

This white sauce is packed with flavor from bay, basil and Parmesan and gets a hint of heat from red pepper flakes. The finished besciamella can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days.

Don’t allow the sauce to cool completely before straining. It flows more easily through the mesh of the strainer when warm and fluid.

Parmesan Besciamella

  • Servings: about 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6 Tbsp.s (¾ stick) salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • ¼ Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Quart half-and-half
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • ½ Tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated (1½ cups)
  • 6 Large fresh basil leaves


  1. In a large saucepan over medium, melt the butter.
  2. Whisk in the flour, then cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. While whisking, gradually add the half-and-half and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the bay and pepper flakes, then reduce to low. Cook, whisking often, until thickened and reduced slightly and no longer tastes of raw starch, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Off heat, whisk in the Parmesan and basil. Cool for 5 minutes, then set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl, pour the sauce into the strainer and press on the solids with a silicone spatula; discard the solids.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


Ragú Bolognese

This recipe makes enough ragù for lasagna Bolognese with enough leftovers for another night’s pasta dinner. Try to purchase pancetta in a large chunk from the deli counter, and if it comes in casing-like plastic, make sure to remove and discard the wrap before use. The next best option is packaged already diced pancetta; if pre-sliced is the only option, it will work, but will cost a lot more and requires less time in the food processor. We add a bit of powdered gelatin to give the ragù a rich, velvety body that otherwise would require a lengthy simmer to achieve. The finished ragù can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated for up to three days.

Don’t trim the fat from the beef and pork. The fat makes the ragù rich and supple, and carries the flavors of the other ingredients. Don’t process the beef and pork too finely; a coarse grind yields the best-textured sauce.

Ragù Bolognese

  • Servings: 8 cups
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Large yellow onion, cut into rough 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Medium celery stalk, cut into rough 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Medium carrot, peeled and cut into rough 1-inch pieces
  • 2 28-Ounce cans whole tomatoes
  • 1½ Lbs. boneless beef short ribs, cut into rough 1-inch chunks
  • 1 Lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into rough 1-inch chunks
  • 8 Oz. piece pancetta, cut into rough 1-inch chunks
  • ¼ Cup tomato paste
  • ½ Cup dry white wine
  • 2 Cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


  1. In a large Dutch oven, combine the butter and oil. In a food processor, pulse the onion, celery and carrot until roughly chopped, about 5 pulses. Transfer to the Dutch oven.
  2. One can at a time, add the tomatoes with juices to the food processor and puree until smooth; transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Add half the beef to the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, 5 to 10 pulses, then transfer to another medium bowl; repeat with the remaining beef.
  4. Repeat with the pork, in batches, adding it to the beef.
  5. Finally, process the pancetta to a coarse paste, about 30 seconds; add to the other meats.
  6. Set the pot over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the pot is almost dry, about 1 minute.
  9. Stir in the ground meats, then stir in the broth, tomatoes, bay and pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, the sauce is thick and the volume has reduced to about 8 cups, 2½ to 3 hours.
  10. Pour ¼ cup water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top; let stand for 5 minutes to soften.
  11. Meanwhile, taste and season the ragù with salt and pepper, then remove and discard the bay. Stir in the softened gelatin until fully dissolved.