Lasagne has been enjoyed by Italians for centuries. The first record of lasagne dates back to Ancient Rome, but that primitive recipe is quite different from lasagne we know and love today: this initial recipe describes a flattened dough layered with cheese and spices and eaten using a pointed stick. In contrast to this primal-sounding dish, our sumptuous vegetarian lasagne layers earthy porcini and wild mushroom sauce between fresh sheets of pasta, and a healthy amount of Italian hard cheese.
Mushrooms have been integral to Italian cuisine for many years. Back in Ancient Rome, mushrooms were considered an expensive luxury. A philosopher of the time, Seneca, vowed to give them up in his attempt to purge anything non-essential, condemning the humble funghi to be an “unnecessary luxury”. Thankfully today, any number of exotic and earthy mushrooms are readily available, including the prized porcini, which take centre stage in our delicious vegetarian lasagne recipe.
Our porcini & wild mushroom lasagne recipe
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 80 minutes
Calories per serving: 513kcal
For the mushroom sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1-2 celery stalks, diced
- 50g of dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water
- 750g wild mushrooms
- 100g cream
- 50g tomato puree
- ½ cup mushroom stock (save the water you used when rehydrating your mushrooms - this makes a great stock!)
- 2 tablespoons cornflour, if needed
- Several sprigs of rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the lasagne
- 400g fresh lasagne sheets
- 75g-100g Italian hard cheese (vegetarian) to sprinkle over each layer
- A sprinkle of grated nutmeg
Chef’s tip: If you’re making fresh lasagne sheets, prepare your pasta dough in advance of your sauce, then roll and cut the sheets while your sauce is simmering.
To Make your Mushroom sauce
- Rehydrate your dried porcini mushrooms in 1 - 2 cups of boiling water. Reserve the leftover water here - this is your deliciously umami mushroom stock.
- Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and saute until softened, for around five minutes. Add the garlic, and continue to fry until fragrant, being careful not to burn anything. Remove this mixture from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil, before stir frying your rehydrated porcini and wild mushrooms until golden brown. Try to cook off as much of the liquid from the mushrooms as possible here, as you do not want any excess liquid in your lasagne.
- Add your sauteed onions, carrot, and celery, tomato puree, stock, and cream, before laying a couple of sprigs of rosemary in the mixture, allowing their flavour to gently infuse the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and leave to simmer until thickened (anywhere between 15-30 minutes)
- If needed, add a couple of tablespoons of cornflour to thicken the sauce, stirring cautiously to make sure it is fully combined with the mixture. Where possible, remove the stalks of Rosemary from the sauce once thickened.
To finish off your lasagne
- To assemble the lasagne, ladle a thin layer of the mushroom sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagne sheets – don’t worry about overlapping sheets here. Follow this with another layer of mushroom sauce – be more generous this time; using the back of the spoon push it right to the edge. Sprinkle over a generous handful of grated vegetarian hard cheese, and in honour of the classic lasagne staple, bechamel sauce, a light sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.
- Repeat these steps (pasta, mushroom sauce and hard cheese) until all the sauce and pasta are used up. Aim for around 5 layers of pasta, and don’t forget to top with a generous amount of hard cheese.
- Cook the lasagne for 40 minutes. Our Head Chef Roberta recommends covering your dish with aluminium foil for the first 10-15 mins, to ensure that the lasagne doesn't dry out in the oven.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for at least 5 minutes. To serve, slice into equal-sized portions and finish with freshly shaved Italian hard cheese. Buon appetito.
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