Lasagna. Who doesn’t LOVE lasagna? Here, in the UK, apart from pizza, lasagna is by far a popular Italian dish. The ultimate Italian comfort food. Found in all Italian restaurants and even at a good old-school greasy spooner. That classic meat and bechamel lasagna is an Italian staple and loved across the country.
However, what if I told you that it isn’t the only lasagna you could enjoy. The world of lasagna is vast. Usually enjoyed in Italy as one of the many dishes typically eaten for Sunday lunch. I love bringing that flavour to my Tiny Italian Sunday supper clubs. So I guarantee to cook and feed my guests a different type of lasagna at each Sunday lunch. Layering sheets of pasta with different flavoursome fillings with a sprinkling of various Italian cheeses. Veggie, vegan, fish, meat. White sauce, tomato sauce. Egg pasta, Spinach pasta. Honestly, the variations are endless.
Here is one of my favourite recipes that I enjoy cooking and recently shared during these crazy COVID-19 times. A creamy, earthy porcini mushroom lasagna. It encompasses all the emotions that a classic meaty lasagna delivers but created with totally different ingredients. Mushrooms have a great meaty texture when cooked on a high heat and caramelised. When cooked with complementary herbs and spices they offer as a fabulously sexy filling alternative. I’m also fond of white creamy sauces when teamed up with vegetables rather than a tomato sauce when you add a little lemon zest to enhance the flavours.
The recipe below includes pancetta. However, if you would rather enjoy a vegetarian option, just leave it out. It’s always about cooking what you will enjoy eating. I would increase the volume of mushrooms you will need to cook to ensure you have enough going on in your filling.
pORCINI MUSHROOM LASAGNA (4 people)
50 dry porcini mushrooms
300g chestnuts mushrooms
200g pancetta or bacon lardons or sausage meat
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tsp Dry sage
1/4 tsp Chilli flakes,
50ml white wine
125g plain flour
1.5 litres vegetable stock
300g lasagna sheets
50g parmesan, grated
Porcini mushroom Directions
- Pre-heat oven to 220c
- Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Pour boiling water on top, enough to cover the mushrooms. This will rehydrate them and bring them back to life. Set a side for 15 minutes.
- Cut your mushrooms in half and slice them 1cm thick.
- Next, add pancetta/bacon/sausage to a heated frying pan. No need for olive oil, as the pancetta when cooked will release its own fat. Cook on a low/medium heat until rendered and browned. Remove from the pan.
- Add 3 tbsp of olive oil to the frying pan. Turn the heat up to medium/high. Add the garlic and mushrooms together. Stir and keep it moving until the mushrooms are well coated in the olive oil. Cook until the outside has browned and caramelised.
- Turn the heat to medium. Now drain the porcini mushrooms (keep the mushroom stock as we will need for our sauce later). Add to the pan.
- Add the sage and chilli flakes. Add back in the meat. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Finish the filling with fresh chopped parsley. Season with salt and black pepper
- Now to make the sauce, pour the porcini mushroom to a large saucepan. Top with vegetable stock until you have 1.5 litres of liquid in the sauce pan. Bring it to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Melt the butter in a separate saucepan. When it has melted, add in the flour and mix together until it has become a thick roux (paste-like).
Now add your hot stock gradually. Keep on stirring until eventually you have used up all your stock. You will end up with a creamy sauce.
- Add the mushrooms to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Add the zest of 1 lemon and stir well together.
- Now you’re ready to build your lasagna. Add a little sauce to coat the bottom of your lasagna dish. Next, place down lasagna sheets. Add more mushroom filling. Sprinkle grated parmesan. Repeat until you have finished with your filling. The top layer should be the sauce with parmesan.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until the top is lovely and brown.