The Addict’s Mushroom Lasagne

This is without a doubt my most requested recipe, and I have now most recklessly gotten several people addicted to it (hence the name). I’m not sure what it is about this lasagne (yes – it is spelled with an ‘e’), but people tend to freak out over it, and none of them miss the meat. I always make my own tomato sauce, and I believe that therein lies the secret. It’s also all the other little touches, like drizzling olive oil over the top of the assembled lasagne before baking it, to give it that extra beautiful, brown, bubbly deliciousness. I think the biggest secret though is simply having the love and passion for cooking that allows you to patiently caress a dish into existence. Taking the time to cook for myself and for other people who will deeply appreciate a homemade meal is one of the most satisfying and rewarding ways I can spend my time. So make this for someone who will enjoy eating it just as much as you enjoyed making it (it shouldn’t be hard to find such a person!).

  For the sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
50 grams (1/2 cup) mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 small carrot, halved and sliced thinly
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
120 ml (½ cup) white or red wine
900 grams (2 cups) tomato puree
6 fresh, in-season or a 400 gram (8 0unce) can of tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons herbs of your choice (I recommend thyme, herbes de provence, tarragon, basil, and oregano)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

For the lasagne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
400 grams (4 cups) mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
120 ml (½ cup) cider, white wine, sherry or Marsala
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons thyme
340 grams (3/4 lb) ricotta cheese
225 grams (1/2 lb) soft garlic cheese
2 eggs
945 ml (4 cups) tomato sauce
1 package lasagna noodles
225 grams (1/2 lb) fresh, grated mozzarella (or emmenthal)

For the tomato sauce

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium/high heat. Once oil is sizzling, add onions, mushrooms, and carrot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables begin to brown, and then add the wine and garlic. Simmer until reduced to about half the amount of liquid.

Add in tomato paste, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, herbs of your choice, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Like a soup, the longer a tomato sauce sits and matures, the more depth of flavor it will have. Therefore, it’s great to do this the day before or the morning of so it has time to age before you assemble the lasagna.

For the lasagne

Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium/high heat. Once the oil is sizzling, add the onions. Let them sit 2-3 minutes until they begin to brown, then add in mushrooms. Cook the vegetables until they are beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

While waiting for the mushrooms to cook, mix together in a medium bowl ricotta, garlic cheese, eggs, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Once the mushrooms have browned and they are beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan, add in the cooking alcohol, garlic, thyme, and pepper to taste. Make sure to scrape all the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer lightly until the alcohol has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft and the onions are translucent. Set aside.

Add about 2 ladlefuls of tomato sauce to the bottom of the lasagna dish and spread it around evenly. Layer uncooked noodles over the sauce, then half of the cheese and egg mixture, followed by half of the vegetable mixture, and another generous ladleful of tomato sauce. Repeat the last four steps (starting with the noodles).

To finish, add one last layer of noodles, followed by the remainder of the tomato sauce. Top off with the mozzarella (or emmenthal) cheese. Drizzle with olive oil (only if using emmenthal).

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees faranheit, or until the top of the lasagna is brown and bubbly.

Enjoy with red wine, a vegetable side dish (we must be semi-healthy at least!) and of course, at least one good friend.

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