Mushroom Lasagna Recipe
Morels are best when prepared fresh from harvest. However, if you must store them before cooking, place them, unwashed, in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Just before you’re ready to use them, brush off any visible dirt from the caps, and place them in a strainer. Rinse them thoroughly under cold running water, and gently shake the strainer to remove excess water. Turn them out onto paper towels and allow them to dry before cooking them.
This dish is easy to prepare if you have all your individual ingredients washed, measured and ready to use. Lasagna is one of those personal preference dishes, in which some people like lots of sauce, while others don’t; some like more meat, others like no meat; some add salt, while others don’t; some choose to add more cheese, while others add less. The possibilities are endless, and this recipe leaves room for creativity and individual tastes.
• 1⁄2 pound morel mushrooms
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 carton (16 ounces) ricotta cheese, or other soft cheese
• 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 box (16 ounces) lasagna noodles
• 24-to-32 ounces jar or homemade pasta sauce, depending on how much sauce you want
• 2 cups bite-size fresh spinach leaves
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
• 1⁄2 to 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1. Clean the morels, trim away any tough stems, and slice them. For large caps, slice them into several lengthwise sections, and for small caps, just slice them in half.
2. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet until hot. Add and sauté morels until they’re just wilted. Remove from heat, leaving mushrooms in the skillet until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, garlic, basil, thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Mix well, and set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with olive oil; set aside.
5. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions, adding a little olive oil to the cooking water. About 5 minutes before the package directions say the noodles should be done, drain them. (You don’t want them to be completely cooked, which will help reduce the risk of tearing during assembly, and will also avoid overcooking them in the oven.)
6. Cover bottom of prepared baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Top with a single layer of noodles. Spoon on more sauce, and then top with spinach leaves. Sprinkle on half the Parmesan cheese, and then add another layer of noodles. Top with more sauce, then the ricotta mixture, and another layer of noodles.
7. Spoon on more sauce, then top with the morels. Cover with another layer of noodles, and then more sauce. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan over all.
8. Cover dish with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove dish from oven, and discard foil. Increase oven temperature to 350 F.
9. Sprinkle mozzarella over top of lasagna. Return to the oven, and bake, uncovered, for 15 more minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and browned. Cool slightly before serving.
Interested in more ways to cook with nature? Check out The Value of Edible Plants to find more editor-recommended recipes for this spring.