Some days I wake up craving for lasagna. Today, was this day! When I thought of all the things I had planned for today, I was ready to slap myself in the face and forget about spending any time on pasta sheets, Bolognese sauce and béchamel sauce. But the craving was there. So I started eliminating all the time-consuming elements of this mouth-watering fantasy.
First, I forgot about pasta sheets. I used no-pre-cooking-required “Mitsides” lasagna sheets. They cook beautifully but still remain al-dente. One down, two to go. Bolognese sauce needs about one hour of simmering time but meatless, mushroom ragout takes 15 minutes. So now we are down to the last one. The dreaded béchamel sauce. I suddenly remembered Donal Skehan’s (I love this guy) stovetop lasagna recipe. He used a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan and milk instead. It was almost like instant béchamel sauce.
This turned out to be seriously good lasagna in less than half of the time. Craving, satisfied.
Instead of the béchamel sauce – Ricotta sauce
- 500 grams whole milk ricotta, drained from any liquid
- 1 cup milk
- ¾ cup cheddar cheese, grated
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Freshly ground black pepper
Instead of the Bolognese sauce – Mushroom ragout
- 60 grams unsalted butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 kg Portobello or white mushrooms sliced
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 x 400 grams can “Mitsides” chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the lasagna
- 1 x 500 grams pack “Mitsides” egg lasagna
- 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
First make the Ricotta sauce by mixing together the ricotta, milk, cheddar and Parmesan. Season liberally with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until needed.
Make the mushroom ragout. In a large pot or skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook stirring for a couple of minutes until onion is soft and beginning to colour. Increase heat to high and add mushrooms (they might seem like a lot but they will shrink substantially). Cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes until reduced and cooked. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let it bubble away for 1 minute, and then add the chopped tomatoes and thyme. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to boil again and let everything simmer for 3 minutes until thickened only slightly not a lot. Your ragout will be runny and saucy that’s how it should be, otherwise your lasagna sheets won’t cook in the oven. Take pan off the heat.
Assemble the lasagna. Preheat oven to 200 C. Take a deep rectangular lasagna dish measuring about 23 x 34cm. I chose one that fits four lasagna sheets, one next to the other, overlapping slightly. Use your measuring cups to put one cup of mushroom ragout at the bottom of the dish. Spread it roughly using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Lay four lasagna sheets, one next to the other on top of the ragout. Spread ½ cup of the ricotta mixture on top of the lasagna. Then spread 1 cup of the ragout on top of the ricotta. Repeat 4 more times. 4 Lasagna sheets, ½ cup ricotta mixture, 1 cup mushroom ragout. Finish with 4 lasagna sheets topped with about 1 cup of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on top of the ricotta.
Bake the lasagna. Cover lasagna with foil (try not to touch the ricotta layer, tent with foil if necessary). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and reduce temperature to 175 C. Bake 20 minutes more, until top is golden. Remove from the oven and let lasagna stand for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.