Wild mushrooms + pasta + cheese = nirvana! Could food get any better??? I may be a bit biased since I'm a fungus freak. Mushrooms are the stars on this plate. We happened to have a wild oyster mushroom flush about the same time we had a good flush of inoculated shiitakes. The morels were dried.
We've been experimenting with oysters for a while since we have so many growing wild around our place. They're one of the more commonly found wild mushrooms in this region that are safe for beginning foragers given there are no poisonous look-alikes here (although, as with any wild food, you should always be 100% sure what you're eating is what you think it is). Oyster mushrooms have a really nice flavor and meatiness that lends itself well to vegetarian lasagna, so it seemed like the perfect addition to this recipe.
Chickweed is just coming back in after the summer heat so we were anxious to welcome it back to the table. And it's still temperate enough for a few fresh herbs and veggies from the garden. You could say it was our tomatoes' last hurrah.
This recipe is an adaptation of Deborah Madison's wild mushroom lasagna in The Greens Cookbook. It's pretty complicated but it's not hard to make. The lasagna is awesome the way it is but try it with homemade nettle pasta if you want to really complicate things.
Wild Mushroom Lasagna
1 lb-6"x6" fresh pasta sheets or egg roll wrappers
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBLS butter
1 cup Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh morel mushrooms or 1/2 dried morels, reconstituted and sliced
1/4 lbs fresh oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 lbs fresh shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
Splash sherry or white wine
1/2 to 1 cup stock from soaking morels, strained through a coffee filter, or vegetable stock
In a large saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until soft.
Add mushrooms, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, thyme and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender when pierced with a fork, adding stock as needed to keep from sticking.
Deglaze mushrooms with a splash of sherry or wine.
6 TBLS butter
1/2 cup Vidalia onion or shallots, minced
3 TBLS flour
3 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of nutmeg
In a medium-sized sauce pan, melt butter, add onions and salt, and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
Whisk flour into butter mixture until combined.
Whisk in milk, cayenne, and nutmeg and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until thickened, whisking frequently. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
1 cup chickweed, chopped (avoid any tough stems)
1/2 lb roma tomatoes (about 4 tomatoes), sliced 1/4" thick
1 cup parmesan, coarsely grated
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup tomato sauce or fresh tomato concasse (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Oil a casserole pan-we used a 7 1/2" x 12" x 1 1/2" pan.
Spread 2 TBLS bechamel sauce on bottom of pan and lay pasta sheets around side of pan with about an inch of pasta hanging over edge (these will be folded over at the end). Cover any remaining space on bottom with pasta sheets cut to fit.
Evenly spread 1/2 of the mushroom filling, 1/2 cup of bechamel, and 1/3 cup parmesan over the pasta.
Cover with pasta sheets.
Evenly spread 1/2 cup of bechamel, 1 cup of chickweed, and 1/2 of the roma tomato slices over the pasta and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover with pasta sheets.
Evenly spread remaining half of mushroom filling, 1/2 cup of bechamel, and 1/3 cup of parmesan over pasta.
Fold hanging edges of pasta over filling and cover remaining filling with pasta sheets to create an enclosed package.
Cover entire surface with ricotta -- this will keep the pasta moist while cooking.
Arrange remaining half of roma tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Loosely cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375°F.
Uncover and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned.
Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve with remaining bechamel sauce. It's also nice served with tomato sauce or a fresh tomato concasse.