When they decide to start a new television series dubbed Cookbook Hoarders I just know my phone will ring and I'll be invited to appear in the premiere. Yes, dear readers, I have a problem. It seems to me, however, that there are a lot worse maladies than compulsively buying cookery books. At least as long as the walls of our house don't implode, I suppose.
On the plus side, I really do read them. In fact, I do more than read them. I pour over them, I consult them, I come back and reread themand somehow, what I've read in the past is constantly percolating through what I'm reading in the present.
All of this helps me to do what I most like to do, which is read everything I can around a subject and then close the books and create my own take on whatever it is. That's what happened with this delectable dish which was rolled out over the Christmas holidays and which I just realized I never shared with you, though I promised to.
There's almost nothing more desirable in terms of comfort food to me than lasagna. When I realized I was having a special dinner for some beloved vegetarians, the handy search engine that is my brain steered me towards a couple of recipes for mushroom lasagna that I'd recently read.
One was in the first class vegetarian cookbook which I received as a wonderful present from Charlotte and Sarah before Thanksgiving. I heartily recommend it, by the way. It's called Plenty and is by the renowned London chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Shortly after I read it, I remembered stumbling upon Sam Sifton's article in the Sunday Magazine of the New York Times which had a different take on it, based onBrooklyn chef Monica Byrne's recipe.
I amalgamated the two recipes, taking the best ideas from both and simplified them to create this, if you ask me, perfect meal for a "mixed" crowd. By mixed I mean that vegetarians will be thrilled and cossited by your efforts on their behalf,and even the most dedicated carnivores will find satisfaction as they work their way through the gravitas of the meaty mushrooms and the smokey cheese. One warning however this is one rich dish. Really extravagant in terms of the sheer amount of cheese and exotic mushrooms. Of course, I carefully paid no attention to what it cost to produce, though I think it was not inconsequential.
On the positive side, however, is that it was so rich, we could only each eat a tiny bit so I think the one pan really fed 8 -10 which is amazing when you consider that those 8 - 1o servings included 4 servings --two each--to Felix and Jeff who, bless their hearts--can normally really decimate the best part of a whole lasagna all by themselves.
It's going to be cold around here this weekend, so why don't you make a mushroom lasagna? You can always click-through the channels while it's in the oven and see if the season premiere of Cookbook Hoarders is on. Probably not very action packed, except to me.
serves 8 -10
1/2 cup olive oil
6 large shallots, peeled and minced
1 3/4 pounds mixed fresh exotic mushrooms, best available (oyster, shiitake, cremini etc.)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 medium head of radicchio, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
5 ounces, Feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons truffle oil (optional)
1 9-ounce box of no-boil lasagna sheets
1 lb. smoked mozzarella, sliced
1 cup fresh Parmesan, grated
Preheat the oven to 350. Place a large saute pan over medium high heat. Ad 1/4 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add half of the shallots and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat then cook until they begin to color but are still plump, about 12 minutes. Add thymeand parsley and then add white wine to deglaze the pan and allow to reduce to form a syrup. about5 minutes. Put mushrooms into a large bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, toss the radicchio with 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet and roast until the strips are lightly browned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Combine radicchio with the mushrooms.
Place a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. When it foams, add the rest of the shallots and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and stir to combine and then cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and cook gently for about 2 minutes. Add the milt to the mixture stirring until the sauce is thick and creamy. Add the nutmeg and 1/4 cup each of the grated Gruyère and grated Fontina and stir to combine.
Reserve a cup of this sauce and pour the rest over the mushroom and radicchio mixture and stir to combine. Add the truffle oil if using.
To assemble the lasagna, spread the plain bechamel across the bottom of a 9 - 13-inch baking pan. Place a layer of lasagna sheets across the sauce not overlapping them. Spread a half of the mushroom mixture on top and follow with half of the remaining Fontina and Gruyère and Feta. Put another layer of pasta above the cheese, and top with half of the smoked mozzarella. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of the grated parmesan.
Cover the lasagna with a buttered sheet of aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook until the top is golden and bubbling, about another 15 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes and then serve immediately.