I made this lasagna yesterday, and it was all that and more. Seriously. For something so simple*, it was damn good. The best part is it only serves 6-8 so it was perfect for two of us for dinner, leftovers for lunch today and one additional dinner (I made it in two smaller pans and left one assembled but uncooked in the fridge for another night). One thing I usually hate about lasagnas is the amount of leftovers. I get sick of eating the same thing for a week.
Serves 6 to 8 (more as a first course)
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
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 had to leave out the nutmeg because I wasn’t cooking at my house. We didn’t miss it.)
1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms (I used all portobello, with a bunch of plain, white button mushrooms to fill it up since we didn’t have creminis.)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan (I would have liked to add romano to this, but I forgot to put it on the shopping list.)
My addition: I included a bag of baby spinach to the mushrooms. When you’re done cooking the mushrooms, add in the spinach. No need to chop. Stir it around for about a minute or two and turn the heat off. Don’t overcook, but let them wilt while remaining a deep green color.
(I also added some cayenne, or crushed red pepper would work well, too, and I doubled the garlic, but that’s all optional. I just like added spice.)
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Bring a large, wide (if you use a wide one, you can save a dish later and saute your mushrooms in the bottom of it) of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil, that will help keep your noodles from sticking together as they drain. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Make béchamel: Bring the milk and garlic to simmer in a saucepan, or heat it in your microwave, and set it aside. Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside.
Prepare mushrooms: Discard portobello mushroom stems and/or trim the ends of the cremini stems. Slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in the bottom of the large, wide pot you used to cook the noodles earlier, or in a large sauté pan. Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. Repeat with additional oil and butter, and remaining mushrooms. (This is when I added the spinach)
Assemble lasagna: Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish (I used two 5ish x 9ish dishes and just cut the pasta to fit with fewer layers). Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), 1/3 of the mushrooms and 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining sauce and last 1/4 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.