It has not been a good week. I’ve been trying to drop an insanely hard elective class and have discovered that my university is evil and wants me to fail. Most colleges allow you to drop a class anytime within the first half of the semester (my first college gave two thirds of a semester), but not mine! Mine gives a month. Which, since most teachers don’t give any tests or assignments within the first month of class, is useless. So far I’ve managed to avoid any college induced mental breakdowns, but right now I’m as close as I’ve ever been. College in general is not my favorite thing I’ve ever done, more of a necessary evil (emphasis on the evil), and my current predicament is not helping me like it any more. After a long morning of bawling my eyes out in my advisor’s office (true story, it was quite embarrassing), I was in serious need of comfort food. Enter lasagna.
This is not just any lasagna. This is my favorite lasagna ever. This is the lasagna you would want if you were having a terrible, no good, very bad day and happened to love mushrooms. This is Barefoot Contessa-style lasagna, so you know it’s got enough butter in it to put you in the hospital (would that be the compelling, non-academic reason I need to successfully petition to drop my class?). It is also basically all my favorite foods in one dish. There’s bechamel sauce, cheese, mushrooms and pasta. What more do you need? The final dish is just as rich and creamy as you would expect. Bonus points because the leftovers reheat really well, making them a great lunch for the rest of this horrible week.
But hey, there was one awesome part of this week! Blake from Blake Makes did an amazing giveaway of chocolates from Sucre and I was one of the winners! Sometime soon I am going to come home and find these waiting on my doorstep for me. How cool is that?
Portobello Mushroom Lasagna
Good olive oil
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
4 cups whole milk
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms (Since the grocery store wasn’t exactly giving portobellos away, I used 3 portobellos, part of a package of baby bellas and a package of white mushrooms)
1 cup freshly ground Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.
Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.
To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.