Warren C. Bowles: Lasagne with Mushroom Sauce

Posted on December 23, 2014

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Today’s recipe contribution comes from Mixed Blood Board Member, actor, director, and playwright Warren C. Bowles. You can catch his play African America in February 2015 as part of our 55454 SERIES, or on tour throughout the region this winter.

Warren: “I include this because I remember taking it to a holiday dinner many years ago and having it be a hit. It was one of my earliest experiences cooking something that was truly vegetarian not just cooking without meat. In this picture I made it with homemade pasta but I usually use the commercial dry.”

LASAGNE AL SUGO DI FUNGHI/ LASAGNE WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

This meatless version of the classic lasagne is very light, very delicate, and so special it warrants making homemade pasta. The mushroom sauce by itself can be used with fettuccine but when layered with besciamella, Parmesan cheese, and egg pasta, it has been known to create sheer delight. This is an ideal opportunity for two cooks to operate at the same time.

BESCIAMELLA / WHITE SAUCE

This is the white sauce used in lasagne, cannelloni, and casseroles. This recipe makes enough for a large lasagna, and is of medium consistency.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup quick-mixing flour

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground white pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the flour all at once, and stir rapidly with a wire whisk until blended. Heat the milk to scalding, and add it all at once to the butter-flour mixture, stirring vigorously with the wire whisk. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about the consistency of a thin pudding. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cool the besciamella for about 15 minutes before using. It becomes firmer as it cools.

MUSHROOM SAUCE

15 parsley sprigs

1 garlic clove

1 5-inch fresh rosemary sprig or 1 teaspoon dried

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups peeled pIum tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato puree

½ cup water

1 to 1 ½ pounds big mushrooms, preferably golden

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Make the egg pasta, cut it into 4″ x 6″ rectangles (about like pasta post cards), and dry briefly or clean dishtowels or floured cookie sheets.

Make the BESCIAMELLA and let it cool.

Chop the parsley, garlic, and rosemary thoroughly, and sauté them in the butter and olive oil until limp, about 5 minutes. While the herbs are cooking, press down on the bits of garlic with a wooden spoon and mash any resisting pieces to nothingness.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill and add to the flavored olive oil. Add the tomato puree and water, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer while you prepare the mushrooms.

Clean and slice the mushrooms into 1/4-inch thick slices. Add them to the simmering tomatoes. Sprinkle with the salt, stir, cover, and continue cooking about 15 minutes. Taste for salt and add some more if necessary. The sauce at this time should have condensed somewhat, coat the spoon, and be dark in color.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of at least 4 quarts of water to a boil, salt it (1 teaspoon to each quart) and cook the lasagne a few at a time. Using a slotted spoon, remove the lasagne when they have floated to the top and are al dente (each batch takes about 5 minutes). Drain them in a colander, and then run cold water over them to prevent sticking and stop further cooking.

While you preheat the oven to 350°, the assembling process may begin. Coat the bottom of a lasagne baking dish (14″ x 10″ x 3″) with a very thin layer of mushroom sauce, 2 or 3 tablespoons. Cover with a layer of lasagna. Add another thin layer of sauce, then form a layer of besciamella by evenly spacing tablespoonsful of the white sauce about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese. Add another layer of pasta. Continue until all the ingredients are used up, aiming to finish with a layer of Parmesan. Tuck the pasta in all around the edges.

Bake (at 350°) for about 30 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting. For 8.

2014-12-09 18.12.53

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Posted in: #MBrecipes