Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom Sauce:
1½ oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
3 Tbsp Vera Jane's Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 lb white mushrooms, cleaned, dried, and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 to 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary or thyme, minced
1½ tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2/3 cup dry white wine (an Italian Soave works well)
(1) 28-oz can Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
Béchamel Sauce and Pasta:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4½ Tbsp flour
3 cups whole milk
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Several grinds white or black pepper
12 fresh or dried lasagna noodles
1½ cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
8 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme for garnish, optional

Place dried mushrooms in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under running water to remove grit. Place in a small bowl and soak in 2 cups boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon to a side dish. Squeeze a handful of mushrooms at a time in a clean kitchen towel over the bowl with soaking liquid to remove excess moisture. Coarsely chop mushrooms and set aside. Strain soaking liquid through a sieve line with a paper towel, and reserve.

To prepare mushroom sauce:

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add onions and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden and all liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add porcini, garlic, and rosemary or thyme and cook 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add strained soaking liquid and wine to the skillet and cook until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape up any brown particles on the bottom and sides of pan while cooking. Add tomatoes and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring often. Taste and season sauce with more salt and pepper if needed. Remove sauce from heat and set aside. Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring up to room temperature 30 minutes before assembling lasagna.

To prepare béchamel sauce:

Heat 6 tablespoons butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add milk and whisk constantly until mixture comes to a gentle boil and thickens. Season sauce with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and set aside.

To cook pasta:

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large heavy pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta and cook until tender (4 to 5 minutes for fresh or 10 to 15 minutes for dried). Drain pasta and then place noodles in a single layer on paper towels.

To assemble lasagna:

Lightly butter a 9x13-inch pan with some of the remaining butter. Place 3 noodles in pan. Spread with 3/4 cup of béchamel and then with 1 1/3 cups of mushroom sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers 2 times and spread top with remaining béchamel and 1/2 cup cheese. If not baking immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate; bring to room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna until hot and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut into equal portions and garnish with a sprig of rosemary or thyme.

Makes 8 servings

Allergy Warning: Contains MilkContains EggsContains Wheat

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