Mushroom Lasagna with Pancetta and Sage

Why this recipe works:
To make a mushroom lasagna recipe with no-boil noodles and widely available mushrooms, we found that roasted portobellos gave the dish concentrated mushroom flavor. A very loose béchamel sauce had enough liquid to properly hydrate the noodles.

If Italian fontina is not available, use whole milk mozzarella rather than a
rubbery Danish, Swedish, or American fontina. We like the mushroom sauce made with whole milk, but both skim and low-fat milk are acceptable.

*  1/2 ounce  dried porcini mushrooms , rinsed well
*  1 cup  water
*  2 pounds  portobello mushroom caps (about 10 medium), cleaned and cut into
2- to 3-inch by 1/4-inch slices
*  4 tablespoons  olive oil
*  8 ounces  pancetta , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (omit)
*  2  large red onions , chopped medium (about 4 cups)
*  8 oz button mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, & broken into rough
*  4 med cloves  garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1
tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
*  1/2 cup  dry vermouth
*  3 tablespoons  unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing pan
*  3 tablespoons  unbleached all-purpose flour
*  3 1/2 cups  milk
*  1/4 teaspoon  nutmeg
*  1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
*  1 tablespoon  minced fresh sage leaves
*  8 oz  Italian fontina cheese, rind removed and shredded (about 2 1/4
*  1 1/2ounces  grated Parmesan cheese  (about 3/4 cup)
*  12  no-boil lasagna noodles
*  2 tablespoons  minced fresh basil leaves
*  1/2 teaspoon  grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

1.  Cover porcinis with water in small microwave-safe bowl; cover with
plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife, and
microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until mushrooms soften,
about 5 minutes. Lift mushrooms from liquid with fork and roughly chop (you
should have about 3 tablespoons). Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer
lined with paper towel into medium bowl. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread
portobello mushrooms in even layer on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2
tablespoons oil, tossing to coat mushrooms evenly; sprinkle with 1/2
teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss again. Roast mushrooms until
shriveled and all liquid released from mushrooms has evaporated, about 30
minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Set mushrooms aside to cool.

3. While portobellos roast, heat 1 tablespoon oil and pancetta in 12-inch
nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until pancetta is browned and
crisp, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to large
bowl; pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and
1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are
browned around edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer onions to large bowl with
pancetta and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, process button mushrooms in food processor until uniformly
coarsely chopped, about six 1-second pulses, stopping to scrape down bowl as
needed. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over
medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped button mushrooms and cook,
stirring occasionally, until browned and all moisture has evaporated, 6 to 8

5. Reduce heat to medium and stir in porcini mushrooms, 1 tablespoon
garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently,
until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vermouth and cook, stirring
occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add butter and cook until melted. Add flour and cook, stirring
constantly, about 1 minute. Slowly add reserved porcini soaking liquid,
scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add milk and nutmeg. Increase
heat to medium-high and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and
simmer until sauce has thickened and reached consistency of heavy cream, 10
to 15 minutes (you should have about 4 cups). Remove from heat and stir in 2
tablespoons parsley and sage.

7. Combine fontina and Parmesan in medium bowl. Toss cooled portobello
mushrooms with onions in large bowl. Place noodles in 13 by 9-inch ovensafe
baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, agitating
noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and
place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and coat with

8. Using rubber spatula, evenly distribute 1 cup mushroom sauce in bottom
of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Spread 3/4 cup sauce
evenly over noodles followed by 2 cups mushroom-onion mixture and 3/4 cup
cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, sauce, mushroom-onion mixture, and
cheese two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of last layer of
cheese. Spread remaining sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining
cheese. Lightly spray large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and
cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

9. While lasagna is baking, combine remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and 1
teaspoon garlic with basil and lemon zest in small bowl. Increase oven
temperature to 500 degrees, remove foil from lasagna, and continue to bake
until cheese on top becomes spotty brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove lasagna
from oven and sprinkle evenly with herb mixture. Cool 15 minutes, then cut
into pieces and serve.

Serves 10 to 12.   Cooks Illustrated, Published September 1, 2006.

Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower from Ina

    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 3/4 pound medium shells, such as Barilla
    • Good olive oil
    • 2 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cut into small florets (1 large head)
    • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
    • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 cups freshly grated Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, lightly packed (10 ounces with rind)
    • 1 cup (8 ounces) fresh ricotta
    • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)
    • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Italian Pecorino cheese
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves minced
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta. Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.
  4. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully. Stir in the Fontina. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish. Spoon rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. Combine the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.