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Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom Lasagna

This is the mushroom lasagna I make when no-one is looking. The one where I cut a couple of traditional corners, add a few personal touches and, quite honestly, never look back. Sometimes I go long-form and use homemade pasta for the layers, other times it’s all about keeping the process quick — store-bought lasagna sheets and ragù from the freezer it is. Both versions are pictured here.

Consider yourself warned, this lasagna is a big boy, and will fill all of a 13×9 pan with layers of a vibrant, hearty and creamy mushroom ragù. There are generous dollops of ricotta and ribbons of silky pasta. I’ve grated fragrant lemon zest into the bottom of every lasagna for as long as I can remember, and that’s a feature here too.

The Vision

There are a number of different styles of mushroom lasagna. Some are white lasagnas, with no tomatoes whatsoever. They rely on creamy béchamel (butter, milk, flour) for some of the binding and creaminess desired in lasagna. My version isn’t that. I generously layer a creamy, tomato-based mushroom ragù as the primary sauce throughout. It’s rich enough that I simply skip the béchamel component you see in many lasagnas. Lemon zest lifts all the flavors up, and you can choose to use store-bought lasagna sheets or make them from homemade pasta depending on how ambitious you’re feeling.

Quick version vs. Slow Version

Lasagna is always made with love. They can be all day affairs, but with a bit of planning, one like this can come together reasonably quick. To make the lasagna pictured above I used mushroom ragù thawed from the freezer with store-bought noodles. Had the whole thing in the oven 30 minutes after walking in the kitchen. The other lasagna picture, not so much. I made the ragù the same day, rolled out homemade pasta sheets, and when I say it was an all-day situation, no exaggeration. Either way, a lasagna is never not worth the effort.

Mushroom Lasagna: The Ingredients

The list here is short, so you want to make sure each component is on point, seasoned well and tasting good.

Mushroom Ragù: There’s only one sauce in this lasagna recipe and it is this mushroom ragù is it. It’s a hearty, wonderful, slow-cooked tomato and mushroom sauce featuring finely chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, and aromatics. Keep it in your freezer. Use half for pastas, the other half for this lasagna.
Pasta: You have options here and both are fantastic! You can use homemade pasta or store-bought lasagna sheets.
Cheese: The main cheese in this lasagna is ricotta. Parmesan is used more as a finishing cheese.
Lemon zest: Don’t skip it. It is the secret wink of goodness.
Basil: Use it when basil is in season – always fresh basil. But don’t let the lack of basil deter you from making this.

Dial up the Mushrooms

All of the mushrooms in this lasagna are introduced in the ragù. They’re well chopped. That said, if you want a mushroom lasagna with more defined mushrooms you have options! Stem and slice a pound of mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Cook them in a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a hot skillet with a pinch of salt until golden. Alternately, you can also roast them after tossing with olive oil in the oven as it is pre-heating. Introduce these mushrooms to your lasagna layers.

Mushroom Lasagna: The Process

Here’s a step by step illustration of how to make this lasagna. The first thing to do is butter or oil your baking pan, and then sprinkle with some citrus zest. You see orange here, but I typically use lemon. Or a blend.

The next step is pre-cooking the lasagna sheets in boiling, salted water. You’ll dunk them in a big bowl of ice water spiked with a bit of olive oil. Then transfer to a baking sheet. See below.

From there, build the lasagna in layers starting with a thin layer of ragù. Next, a layer of pasta, more mushroom ragù, and then dollops of ricotta.

Repeat until you’ve run out of ingredients. Make sure to end with a good amount of sauce. You can add ricotta, a bit of basil, and more lemon zest to the top if you like, or keep it simple with just a bit of sauce and a finishing layer of Parmesan. The lasagna below was made with homemade pasta and Parmesan to finish. Bake until golden and beautiful.

Once your lasagna has finished baking, allow it to sit for a few minutes before cutting into it.

Freezing Lasagna

The house rule for this mushroom lasagna is eat half, freeze half. It reheats brilliantly and makes for an easy weeknight meal alongside a quick salad or vegetable side of some sort. To freeze the lasagna, first allow it to cool completely. Slice into desired individual pieces and freeze. Store each slice in an individual container or freezer bag. It makes things easier and slices don’t freeze together. Keep frozen for up to three months.

Reheating Lasagna

Arrange frozen slices of lasagna on a parchment-lined baking sheet, an inch or more apart. If you remember, allow it to thaw a bit ahead of time. Not a big deal if you forget, thawing just allows you to reheat it more quickly. Heat the oven to 400F, cover the baking sheet with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the lasagna is hot throughout. You may need to cut into a slice to make sure the center is hot.

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