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.
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
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
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.
In a large bowl, toss the chopped mushrooms with the oil and salt. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet.
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.
Decrease the oven temperature to 425°F.
Rehydrate the dried mushrooms
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.
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
In the food processor, combine the onion, garlic, and carrot, and pulse until finely chopped or finely chop everything by hand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stir in 7 tablespoons of the cream and simmer for 2 minutes more, then remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, combine both cheeses, the basil, and 1/2 cup parsley.
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.
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.
Turn the oven to the broil setting and broil until the edges are brown and crisp, about 2 minutes.
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.
What is one of your fall-back dinners when you really have nothing planned but need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so? One of our go-to recipes is based on pasta. We pretty much always have some in the pantry, and with a ground meat of some type such as beef, turkey, lamb, or sausage this becomes the basis for dinner.
And if there is no homemade red sauce in our freezer, we always have a commercial jar or two in the cupboard. Our current choice happens to be the great tasting White Linen brand with a low-sugar content which can be found at Costco. It weighs in at a hefty 40 ounces allowing for lots of add-ins.
We start with about a pound of pasta cooked to package directions, brown up a pound of ground meat, sauté chopped veggies and add some fresh herbs like basil or oregano. Top with grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Reggiano, pair with a side salad, dinner done!
There is so much flexibility with this meal concept. With a plethora of jarred sauce options, just select your favorite. However, you may have to use more than one jar’s worth if the volume is much less than 32 ounces. The following list of ingredients is for reference only—adjust the amounts according to your own preferences.
Every autumn we always harvest any leftover basil from our herb garden and blend it with some olive oil, fill silicone ice cube trays with the mixture, and freeze the cubes. They come in handy when making soups, dips, and sauces. We threw one in this sauce along with the jarred marinara.
1 lb. ground meat such as beef, turkey, lamb or sausage
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, 3/4″ chop
1 large onion, roughly chopped
8-12 oz. mushrooms, cremini or white, roughly chopped
1 lb. pasta, cooked according to package directions
Grated Parm or Pecorino for topping
1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, chopped, more for for garnish
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Pour olive oil into a large sauté pan and when hot, add the ground meat. Cook until no longer pink, stirring often, about 8 minutes (depending on your meat of choice). Remove meat from pan to a cutting board and chop smaller if necessary.
Add the chopped pepper and onion to the meat drippings, cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
Return the ground meat to the pan with the vegetables and pour in the jarred marinara sauce. Over medium heat, cook the sauce mixture until hot while the pasta finishes cooking.
Drain the pasta when done. Stir the fresh herbs into the sauce and plate each serving in large bowls, topping each with grated cheese and more fresh herbs.
Soup season always gets us excited because the options are endless—they can range from light and brothy, to heavy and creamy, and about everything in between. Here, this satisfying meal-in-a-bowl is a riff on the Persian dish called soup-e jo and came to us from Milk Street Magazine.
Though barley’s natural starch lends the soup body, béchamel, a mixture of butter, flour and milk, also is traditional for added richness and thickening. For ease, the béchamel is skipped and instead a tablespoon of flour is simply mixed into the sautéed onion and mushrooms, with a swirl of a little cream at the very end.
Fragrant spices give the soup color and complexity, and the fresh mint lifts and brightens the flavors. If you so choose, you can also include dill. The soup was hearty enough as a meal on it’s own, but a side salad would be a welcome addition.
TIP: Don’t use whole-grain barley, as it requires a significantly longer cooking time than pearled barley.
12 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered if small or medium, cut into eighths if large
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup pearled barley
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 qts. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup lightly packed fresh mint, dill or a combination, chopped
In a large pot over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the mushrooms release moisture, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the cumin, turmeric, flour, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the barley and chicken, followed by the broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 40 minutes.
Off heat, stir in the cream and half of the herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining herbs.
We love all things mushrooms, but I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea. However you might be enticed to try this rich, woodsy side dish with combined straightforward creminis and meaty, smoky shiitakes.
To ensure that the mushrooms are evenly seasoned and stay moist during roasting, they are brined in a saltwater solution. This went against everything we’ve ever read about preparing mushrooms, but we gave it a whirl. A glass pie plate was put over the soaking mushrooms to keep them submerged in the brine.
The ‘shrooms are roasted in a hot oven for about an hour until they are deeply browned. Then they’re coated in extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice before adding the flavorful mix-ins of grated Parmesan, parsley, and pine nuts.
Oh yeah Babe, this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen was divine. Served with grilled tomatoes and strip steaks, we felt like royalty on a weeknight!
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450°F.
Dissolve 5 teaspoons salt in 2 quarts room-temperature water in large container. Add cremini mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms to brine, cover with plate or bowl to submerge, and let stand for 10 minutes
Drain mushrooms in colander and pat dry with paper towels. Spread mushrooms evenly on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and toss to coat. Roast until liquid from mushrooms has completely evaporated, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove sheet from oven (be careful of escaping steam when opening oven) and, using thin metal spatula, carefully stir mushrooms. Return to oven and continue to roast until mushrooms are deeply browned, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
Combine remaining olive oil and lemon juice in large bowl. Add mushrooms and toss to coat. Add Parmesan, pine nuts, and parsley and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.
If chicken breasts brimming with lots of flavor is one of your goals, then this recipe is for you. Golden, crusty chicken on the outside; juicy and buttery on the inside; filled with two different types of cheeses, with the most delicious garlic butter mushrooms.
If there is not enough butter left in the pan after making the mushrooms, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and when it is done foaming, sear two breasts at a time for about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the other two pieces of poultry.
And if you so choose, there’s an additional Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce to take it over the top, which we opted not to make. Rather, we deglazed the pan with dry vermouth (wine) when finished browning the stuffed breasts. Before the wine fully evaporates, add the poultry back into the pan with accumulated juices, cover and cook for the allotted 20 minutes.
Most likely, you will have some seepage of cheese oozing out into the pan, as you can see on the right-most two pieces in the top photo. But don’t waste it, use that along with the brown juices to pour over over your platter of chicken.
And because we couldn’t possibly stuff any more ingredients into the slits after the mozzarella and mushrooms, we saved the grated parm for a topping. Sprinkle equal amounts over each breasts, return to the oven for two minutes, then top with a few leftover mushroom slices. We paired ours with a homemade rice pilaf and steamed green beans with a garlic butter finish.
1-1/2 cups half and half or use reduced fat cream or evaporated milk*
1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to your tastes
1/2 tsp. cornstarch cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water, optional
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Melt butter in a large oven proof pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper (to your tastes), and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing your chicken.
Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.
Horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a pocket. Fold and place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket.
Divide the mushroom mixture into four equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture (leave the juices in the pan for later. If there are any left over mushrooms, don’t worry. You’ll use them later). Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.
Heat the same pan the mushrooms were in along with the pan juices (the garlic butter will start to brown and take on a ‘nutty’ flavor). Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden; about 3 minutes per side. You may have to do this in two batches so that the meat sears instead of steams.
OPTIONAL: With pan empty, add 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine into hot pan and stir to loosen fond and browned bits. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.
Cover tightly and continue cooking in preheated oven for a further 20 minutes, or until completely cooked through the middle and no longer pink.
Move to serving platter and remove toothpicks. Serve, with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms, on top of pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.
To make the optional cream sauce, transfer chicken to a warm plate, keeping all juices in the pan.
Fry the garlic in the leftover pan juices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half (or cream).
Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the parmesan cheese has melted slightly. If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch/water mixture into the center of the pan and mix through fast to combine into the sauce. It will begin to thicken immediately.
Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve.
This savory herb-flecked sauté tastes just like stuffing, but without the bread—goodbye carbs! It embraces celery’s crisp texture and distinctive flavor. Found in a decade-old issue of Fine Cooking Magazine, it intrigued us enough to include as a side dish for our Smothered Chicken with Bourbon and Miso.
One rarely thinks of cooked celery as the star of a side dish. It typically takes a back burner as a mix-in to salads, additive to soups, or an accompaniment to hot wings. But here it shines and surprises. We have now added the recipe to our favorites and plan to serve to guests, especially those who are vegetarian.
The beauty of this meatloaf and gravy is that they share several essential ingredients: mushrooms, dry sherry and garlic. While this recipe uses just ground pork and veal, if all you can get your hands on is the meatloaf mix combo, go ahead, the flavor profile won’t be too heavily altered.
Soaking the bread in the milk gives the meatloaf its tender texture. The bread should be wet but not drenched, so squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid. Then chop it all up into very small pieces. You don’t want big hunks of bread marring the perfect loaf.
This ridiculously flavorful vegetarian gravy will satisfy even the heartiest meat-eaters. Along with sherry and tomato paste, dried porcini mushrooms (available in the produce sections of large supermarkets) replicate the savory flavor of drippings. It has to be up there as one of the best gravies we’ve ever had!
*1 cup porcini soaking liquid from rehydrating above mushrooms
3 large thyme sprigs
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Rehydrate porcini mushrooms by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over them in a heat-proof bowl. Let soak 15 minutes. Drain liquid into 1 cup measure, squeezing porcinis over container to remove all liquid. Strain through a very fine sieve to remove any grit from liquid, and set aside. (Add more water if necessary to equal 1 full cup.)
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.
Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic; cook 1 minute more.
Add tomato paste; cook, stirring until color deepens, about 2 minutes.
Add sherry; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, strained mushroom liquid, rehydrated mushrooms and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes.
Strain again through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids (discard solids). Do not wash pan.
Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the same saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, 1 to 2 minutes (don’t let flour brown).
Add about 1/2 cup of the hot broth, whisking to blend. Add remaining broth a bit at a time, whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with pepper.
Although summer produce season was nearing its end, we easily scored some fresh corn and zucchini to make this flavorful Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini. It’s a one pan meal that’s ready in a total of 45 minutes. Cooked in a skillet, the spiced chicken takes on a brick-red hue with a moderately spicy kick. (You can adjust the amount of heat by adding or eliminating the amount of cayenne.)
Here gochugaru—Korean red chile flakes—imbues this one-skillet chicken and vegetable supper with its deep, savory flavor, gentle heat and a hint of smokiness. But don’t fret if you can’t find gochugaru, just substitute ancho chile powder, regular chili powder or chipotle chile powder (or choice) for a delicious but different taste profile. Add more cayenne or eliminate it to adjust the level of heat, which is moderate as written. (Gochugaru can be found at Asian markets, well stocked supermarkets or online.)
I got carried away and pounded the chicken breasts down to a 1/4″ instead of the indicated 1/2″. Not a problem as long as the meat is not overcooked and dried out. Adjust the cooking time so that the poultry registers 160°, then move to a plate and cover with foil.
The amount of chicken we made was over 1 1/2 pounds, which when hammered down made 4 large cutlets, and therefore had to be cooked in 2 batches. Once the veggies are done, pour the accumulated chicken juices into the pan and stir to distribute.
Yes, you can make this meal with frozen corn, but you will suffer from a loss of flavor. This summer was THE BEST corn season we’ve experienced in a long time. And this last batch in particular was astoundingly sweet and juicy!
2 Tbsp. canola oil or another neutral oil, divided
8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms or a mix of mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster and/or cremini, sliced
2 to 3 Tbsp. water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, plus dark greens for garnish
1 Tbsp. minced or finely grated fresh ginger
1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), trimmed, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
3-4 ears of corn, kernels sliced from cob
In a small bowl, combine the gochugaru, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the granulated garlic and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture onto both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in a little with your fingers.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the water if the pan seems dry, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the scallions and ginger and cook until they soften, about 1 minute.
Add the zucchini, corn and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add more water as needed, a couple of tablespoons at a time.
Pour any accumulated juices from the chicken into the pan with the vegetables, and then slice the chicken into strips.
Serve the vegetables with the sliced chicken on top or on the side.
Mushroom lovers unite! Not only is the pasta filled with the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of macrofungi (OK, maybe a little too scientific sounding), but the mushroom is the star of the show in the topping. Though delicious made with cremini mushrooms alone, this one-pan sauce is even more spectacular if you use a mix of mushrooms.
My inspiration recipe from Fine Cooking used cheese ravioli, but mushrooms were the name of the game for me, so I chose agnolotti. It is a type of pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over a filling of roasted meat or vegetables—in this case, mushrooms.
2-1/2 to 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
12 oz. cremini mushrooms (or mixed wild), sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. tomato paste
1-1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup lower-salt vegetable or chicken broth
10 oz. fresh or frozen mushroom stuffed agnolotti
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine, then spread the mushrooms out in the pan and cook, undisturbed, until well browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
Stir and continue to cook until well browned all over and any liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. (if the mushrooms are dry and the pan begins to scorch, add a drizzle of oil.) Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
Add 1 Tbs. of the remaining oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Return the mushrooms and any liquid to the pan. Add the flour, thyme, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the wine, and stir until thickened. Add the broth, and simmer until the liquid reduces to a light sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente, drain, and add to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir to coat over low heat. Serve topped with the parsley and cheese.