Mushroom Lasagna

Yesterday I made my way to work carrying my yoga mat and clothes. I was determined to work out. As predicted, towards the end of the day, I found my determination start to waver. I tried and tried to use motivational speaking, advocate the benefits of working out, bribe myself with treats if I accomplished my goal, but nothing worked. And the reason nothing worked is because I had found a recipe for a dish so spectacular, so mouthwatering that I could not wait another minute to go home and make it. So I said NAY to Yoga and YAY to a Mushroom Lasagna.

This was my first try at Lasagna and most importantly my first try at béchamel sauce, which is incredible considering I am a huge, huge, HUGE fan of béchamel. So much so, that I usually eat it with a spoon, out of the pot – which greatly displeases my mother (Oops). I think maybe that’s the reason why I haven’t tried to make it before, sometimes when you have to cook a dish that you really love, whose flavor you’re very familiar with, it’s hard to take that step and say “Yes I’m going to do it,” mainly because the following things could happen:

1. You’ll know within the first seconds if you’ve massively failed.

2. You risk ruining one of your favorite dishes… forever.

Now on to the dish: Mushroom Lasagna adapted from Smitten Kitchen

What you’ll need:

Salt
Olive oil
1 pound dried lasagna noodles ( I used 15 sheets)
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used less, because this seemed like a lot)
2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil, to make sure your noodles don’t stick together. Add the lasagna sheets and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. *So I had a little problem here, my pot was definitely not wide enough to fit all 15 sheets of lasagna. In fact it wouldn’t even fit one sheet. After I overcame my moment of anger and frustration, I decided to boil 5 sheets at a time. Though initially only half of the sheets were submerged in water, as they boiled I was able to scoot them in there fully. Crises averted! Though it did take me 3 times the time it would have usually taken.

Make béchamel: Bring the milk and garlic to simmer in a saucepan. At the same time, melt and brown 1 stick (1/2 pound) of butter in a large saucepan.  Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly until  you get a thick, creamy consistency. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time, whisking rapidly until well combined. Season with salt,  pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently until thick. Set aside. * If your béchamel starts to thicken while you are assembling the lasagna, put it back on the stove, add 1/4 cup of water (or milk) and whisk once more until it has reached your desired consistency. If it’s too thick you will have a hard time spreading it on top of the lasagna. 

Prepare mushrooms: Slice mushrooms and sauté half of them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter.  Season with salt and set aside. Repeat with additional oil and butter for the remaining mushrooms.

Assemble lasagna: Spread a layer of béchamel sauce in the bottom of your baking dish.  Arrange a layer of noodles on top (I did 5 noodles vertically), add a layer of sauce, 1/2 of the mushrooms and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat once more and top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining sauce and the last 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

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