You won't find tomato sauce or ricotta or mozzarella in this lasagna. What you will find are fontina cheese, bechamel, porcini and baby bella mushrooms. Don't get me wrong -- I love the traditional Italian-American classic as much as anyone, but I also love different versions too like butternut squash lasagna or mushroom lasagna.
Start with soaking the dried porcini in water and slicing the baby bellas.
Use fresh thyme if you can get it at the grocery store, or if you've got it growing in your garden. Here in the Northeast, I can usually harvest mine all winter long, even after the recent snowstorm.
Home-made pasta is always the best, but these pasta sheets found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket - made by the Italian company Rana - are a great substitute. Use the boxed lasagna noodles if you have no other choice. The package directions for these noodles say you don't have to boil them, but I soaked them in hot water for five minutes to soften them since there would not be as much liquid with this recipe as there would be with tomato-sauce lasagna.
Spread some bechamel sauce on the bottom of the casserole, then add a sheet of pasta, and mushrooms.
Sprinkle some grated parmesan over the fontina.
Repeat a couple of times, ending with a layer of pasta. Spread with bechamel and sprinkle with parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees, covered, then increase the temperature to 425 degrees and bake another 15 minutes until browned on top.
printable recipe here
6 portions, depending on appetites
1 large shallot (or two smaller ones)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in water for 1/2 hour, then drained
16 oz. baby bella mushrooms (small portabella mushrooms), sliced
2. T. butter for sauteeing the mushrooms
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (about 3 T. minced)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 package of fresh lasagna sheets (like an 8.8 oz. package of Rana brand), soaked in hot water for about 5 minutes (or use fresh, home-made lasagna if you're ambitious.)
@ 2 cups bechamel sauce
4 T. butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
a few grindings of fresh nutmeg
Place the olive oil and butter in a pan and add the minced shallot. Let it soften then add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then remove from pan. Place the 2 T. butter into a large pan and add the baby bella mushrooms. Cook on high heat. A lot of water will be released. Keep cooking until the water is evaporated, then lower the heat, and add the porcini mushrooms, along with the cooked shallot and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
Make the bechamel sauce in a separate pot by melting the butter, then adding the flour and letting it cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time, adding more if necessary, or stopping when it's thick enough. It should be no thicker than the consistency of a very loose pudding, since it thickens more when it cools. Add 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, which will also thicken it more.
Meanwhile, soak the packaged fresh lasagna noodles in hot water for five minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Assemble the lasagna by spreading a bit of the bechamel on the bottom of the casserole. Place a sheet of pasta over the sauce, then cover with cooked mushrooms, some of the fontina and some of the parmesan. Dab some bechamel over this, then cover with another sheet of pasta. Do this two more times and finish with a layer of pasta. You should have four layers of pasta when you're done. There will be two sheets leftover in the package - use them for another recipe. Then spread the final layer of pasta with bechamel sauce and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 1/2 hour. At the end of 1/2 hour, remove the foil, then increase the temperature to 425 and bake another 15 minutes.