Mushroom Lasagna

Reprinted with permission from the September/October 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. For a trial issue of Cook’s call 800-526-8442. Selected articles, as well as subscription information, are available online at

If Italian fontina is unavailable, use whole milk mozzarella rather than a rubbery Danish, Swedish, or American fontina. Whole milk is best in the sauce, but skim or low-fat milk also work.

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed well
1 cup water
2 pounds (about 10 medium) portobellow mushroom caps, cleaned and cut into 2 by 1/4-inch slices
4 tablespoons olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 large red onions, chopped medium (about 4 cups)
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, and broken into rough pieces
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing pan
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk (see note above)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
8 ounces Italian fontina cheese, rind removed and shredded (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cups)
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon

1. Cover porcini with water in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Lift mushrooms from liquid with fork and roughly chop (you should have about 3 tablespoons). Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer lined with paper towel into medium bowl. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread portobellos in even layer on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, tossing to coat mushrooms evenly; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss again. Roast mushrooms until shriveled and all liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Set aside to cool. (Do not turn off oven.)

3. While portobellos roast, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned around edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer onions to large bowl and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, process button mushrooms in food processor until uniformly coarsely chopped, about six 1-second pulses, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Heat remaining tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped button mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and moisture has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Reduce heat to medium and stir in porcini mushrooms, 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 teaspon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add butter and cook until melted, Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add milk, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add reserved porcini liquid and nutmeg. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer untl sauce reaches consistency of heavy cream, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and 1/4 cup basil.

7. Combine fontina and Parmesan in medium bowl. Toss cooled portobello mushrooms with onions in large bowl. Place noodles in 13 by 9-inch ovensafe baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and coat with butter.

8. Using rubber spatual, evenly distribute 1 cup mushroom sauce in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Spread 3/4 cup sauce evenly over noodles followed by 2 cups mushroom-onion mixture and 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, sauce, mushroom-onion mixture, and cheese two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of last layer of cheese. Spread remaining sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Lightly spray large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

9. While lasagna is baking, combine remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons basil, and 1 teaspoon garlic with zest in small bowl. Increase oven temperatue to 500 degrees, remove foil from lasagna, and continue to bake until cheese on top becomes spotty brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven and immediately sprinkle evenly with herb mixture. Cool 15 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.

Serves 10 to 12