Special Mushroom, Celeriac and Walnut Lasagne


IMG_1732For my vegetarian Christmas celebration, I opted for one of my favourites – lasagne, this time made with rich layers of mushroom, herby celeriac and creamy cheese sauce, along with the obligatory home made pasta sheets.  Of course you could use shop bought pasta, but making your own is really simple.

It’s a 3 pan, 1 dish meal so can be a bit of a faff to prepare, but the great advantage is that you can make it in advance.  It freezes well uncooked, or can be made a day of so and left in the fridge.  Just prepare to the point of baking and set aside until needed, throw it in the oven and you’re away.  What better way to entertain your guests with a sumptuous meal?

Celeriac has a really strong flavour, and not everyone gets on with it.  I’d consider doubling up on the mushroom layer volumes and missing out the celeriac layers completely for a truly intense mushroom lasagne variant.

Absolutely terrific served with a full bodied Italian red wine

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the pasta:

  • 300g 00 Pasta Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • a drop of Olive Oil

For the Mushroom Layers:

  • 75g Dried Porcini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 250ml Boiling Water
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 350g Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a little Thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 150ml Marsala
  • A little Double Cream
  • Salt & Pepper to season
  • a handful of chopped Parsley

For the Celeriac Layers:

  • 1 medium head of Celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 50g Butter
  • 3 onions, diced
  • a good handful of Fresh herbs, chopped (- Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano – use any combination)
  • 100g Walnuts, chopped
  • Plenty of Pepper & Salt to season

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 50g Butter
  • 3 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 300ml Vegetable Stock
  • 200ml Double Cream
  • 300ml Full Fat Milk
  • a little grated Nutmeg
  • Black Pepper
  • 200g Parmesan, grated
  • 2 balls Mozzarella (half sliced, half diced)

Method

  • Make the pasta by blitzing the flour, eggs and oil for a few seconds in a food processor until it forms crumbs which can be brought together into a ball.  Set aside to rest in the fridge whist you prepare the other layers
  • First, the mushroom layer: Soak the porcini in the boiling water for at least 5 minutes
  • In a pan, heat the olive oil and sweat off the chestnut mushrooms and garlic with the thyme.
  • Add the soaked porcini (including the liquid) and marsala and bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer, stirring periodically.  This needs to reduce down to provide a concentrated mushroom sauce.  Whilst reducing, progress with the celeriac layer
  • Melt the butter in another pan and sweat off the celeriac for a couple of minutes
  • Add the onions and herbs, and sweet down with the lid on for a few minutes more
  • Add the walnuts and stir.  If the pan is dry, add some water and cover.  Allow to cook gently whilst you prepare the cheese sauce
  • In another pan melt the butter then stir in the flour. Cook the paste for a few moments over the heat until it bubbles, stirring all of the time
  • Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the stock, ensuring all lumps of flour are beaten into the sauce
  • Once all of the stock has been whisked in, grate in a little nutmeg, add the cream and milk and return to the heat
  • Bring to the boil, whisking all of the time.  The sauce will thicken but this whisking will prevent any lumps from forming
  • Reduce the heat and add ¾ of the parmesan.  Stir well to melt and check the seasoning.  Add a little salt or pepper if required
  • Finish the mushroom layer with a splash of cream, the parsley and then season with salt & pepper to taste
  • Take the pasta from the fridge and using a pasta machine, roll out into sheets on one of the 2 thinnest settings. You need enough pasta to make 3 layers in a 35cm * 20cm dish
  • On the bottom of the dish, place ⅓ of the celeriac mixture; Top with ⅓ of the Mushroom mixture, then a layer of the pasta
  • Drizzle some of the cheese sauce over the pasta, then half of the diced mozzarella
  • Repeat 3 times, finishing off with the majority of the cheese sauce over the top, the slices of mozzarella and the remaining grated parmesan
  • Bake at 180oC Fan for 30-40 minutes

TIP: Try & save the celeriac & Mushroom juices for the very top layer – they will permeate through the dish and help to cook the lasagne more evenly

NB: If using shop-bought ‘no cook’ lasagne, ensure that you give the dish enough cooking time and that the sauces are wet enough to cook the pasta through

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