“Are the mushrooms white?”, asked Bill, logically. Well, no, they’re brown, I explained, but it is a “white” lasagna in that it has a white béchamel sauce, rather than a tomato sauce as one would find in a standard red lasagna. Listening to this short explanation was too much like cooking for him and I could see he was already back to his newspaper. Regardless, this dish has garnered rave reviews whenever I have served it.
I mainly use brown crimini mushrooms with some added dried porcini mushroom powder, and sometimes I’ll add portobellos. You can use whatever mushrooms you like, whatever you have on hand or happens to be on sale. If you know how to forage for wild mushrooms and find a trove of them, go for it. I once made it with a large proportion of chantrelles, but I don’t think they were worth the expense, for all the difference they made.
Not Your Average White Sauce
Instead of using the standard milk & flour white sauce, I use a recipe for a yogurt-based Armenian béchamel. This was because I happened to have Victoria Jenanyan Wise‘s “The Armenian Table Cookbook” from the library the first time I made it. It makes a richer, tarter and more interesting white sauce than a standard flour and milk roux.
Below is the 4 serving sized recipe, which I make in a 8x6x2″ pyrex dish, for the two of us. If you’re making for guests or Thanksgiving, just double the recipe and use an 8x12x2″ pan.
White Mushroom Lasagna
For the Armenian béchamel
⦁ 3T butter
⦁ 3T all-purpose white flour
⦁ 1.5c Greek yogurt
⦁ 1/4t salt
⦁ 1/2c milk
⦁ a few pinches of ground nutmeg
For the lasagna
1/2 package dried lasagna noodles
- 1T butter
- 1T olive oil
- 1lb of mushrooms of your choice, sliced
- 1/2c shallots, finely chopped
- 1t garlic, minced
- 1/2t thyme
- a few dried porcini mushrooms, or powdered porcini
- 1/8t truffle oil (optional)
- 3/4c grated Parmesan
- Salt and black pepper to taste
First make the béchamel by melting the butter over medium heat till foaming. Whisk in the flour and reduce the heat, stirring until the mixture turns golden (2 min). Now add in the Greek yogurt, milk and salt. Whisk till it is smooth, thick and creamy, (about 12 min). If it gets too thick, add more milk. Stir in the nutmeg and set it aside.
Next prepare the mushrooms. Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan and saute the mushrooms over high heat until they begin to just turn golden brown.
- Reduce the heat, add the shallots & garlic, and cook until softened. Now add the thyme, salt and pepper. When the mushrooms start releasing their juices, crumble a few dried porcini into the pan or sprinkle in a few teaspoons of porcini powder. Stir in the truffle oil and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, you have been boiling a big pot of salted water for the lasagna noodles. Cook according to the directions on the package. I use 1/2 a box (9 pieces) of Ronzoni lasagna pasta, cooked for 10 minutes.
- While your oven heats up to 375F, assemble the lasagna. Butter your baking dish and then paint some béchamel sauce in the bottom. Layer pasta, sauce, mushrooms, cheese; repeat twice for a total of 3 layers.
- Bake until golden and bubbly, about 30-45 minutes.
It is a filling and festive main dish, suitable for lunch, brunch or dinner. Just a green salad and you are good to go. Great for company in need of impressing. Your vegetarian guests at Thanksgiving will no longer feel forlorn.