Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mushroom Lasagna with Cashew Ricotta

Get in the kitchen – but first go buy some mushrooms. This recipe is my creation, and it’s a keeper. I was in the mood for mushrooms and lasagna, and this is what I came up with. This recipe goes down in history - good for company but better for a Monday night at home with your family.

Here’s what you need:
16 oz sliced white mushrooms
8 oz sliced shitake mushrooms – make sure no stems are hiding in the package- they’re tough and chewy. Cut them off and search the pile to be sure none are hiding.
16 oz sliced portabella mushrooms – gills removed – use a small spoon to scrape them away.
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms – soaked in 1 ½ C boiling water for one hour. KEEP that water!
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz cherry tomatoes
12 lasagna noodles
1 t cornstarch
1 T Earth Balance butter
½ C dry white wine
Dried basil

1 recipe cashew ricotta
(1 ½ C raw cashews soaked in water for one hour. Drain off water. Place in blender with ½ C  fresh water, 2 T lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, 2 T Nutritional yeast {optional, but adds a nice cheesy taste}, dash of onion powder. High speed, scraping down sides as needed, until creamy and fluffy.)

Here’s what you do:
Clean all the mushrooms and chop the larger pieces in about ½ inch chunks. Cut the soggy porcinis in smaller pieces too.  Sautee them all in a large pan in about 1 T olive oil.  Be patient. It takes about 12-15 minutes to get them browned on most sides.

Add another 1 T olive oil and drop in the minced garlic. Cook the garlic in the puddle of oil until it is fragrant – do not brown it! Even if you have to turn off the heat and let it just warm, that’s OK. Mix the garlic and mushrooms together.

At the same time that the mushrooms are cooking, reduce the soaking water from the porcinis. I added ½ C of dry white wine, some salt and pepper and simmered the liquid for about 10 – 15 minutes. You want about ½ C liquid.  When reduced, add 1 T Earth Balance butter and thicken it with about 1 t cornstarch. Instead of adding the cornstarch directly into the warm liquid, remove  ¼ of liquid to a small bowl, sprinkle the cornstarch over it and whisk until totally dissolved. At this time, you can drizzle the slurry directly into the hot liquid – no lumps! Works like a charm every time. Heat until thick and glossy. The small amount of butter adds nice body and gloss. Pour the sauce over the mushrooms.

At the same time that all this is going on, sauté some cherry tomatoes by heating them in ½ T of olive oil. When they seem ready to ‘burst’, prick them with a sharp knife to release some juice and pressure. Continue to sauté them until they are nicely wilted and deglaze the pan with some more wine. Remove from heat and set aside. You want it to be a bit juicy.

At the same time this is all going on, boil the lasagna noodles according to the box.

Assemble the lasagna as follows: spray an 8 or 9 inch square pan and place about 10 tomatoes in the bottom of the pan to keep the pasta from sticking. Create layers of pasta, mushrooms, cashew ricotta until everything is used up. Leave some pasta for the top layer and pour the remaining tomatoes over the top, tucking any stray corners of pasta down. I drizzled some more wine over the top to prevent dryness. Sprinkle with dried basil. Bake 350 degrees until heated through – about 30 minutes.

(printable recipe)

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