For my first post, I'm going to take you step-by-step through making this absolutely luscious artichoke and mushroom lasagna. It's an ideal vegetarian party dish because you can assemble it up to a day before and then just pop it in the oven. Using no-boil lasagna noodles and a special tip for slicing the fresh mozzarella, it's relatively quick to assemble.
You can go directly to the printable recipe or I'll show you how to make it step-by-step...
Here's what you'll need. The fine folks at Cook's Illustrated recommend the Ronzoni oven-ready lasagna noodles for both flavor and texture, so that's what I use.
Here are all the main ingredients prepped and ready to go--what chefs call mis en place. This is a recipe where it pays to get all the ingredients ready before you begin any cooking. So that's what we'll do first...
1) Open up three 8-oz. packages of frozen artichoke hearts and put them in a colander where they can thaw.
2) Gently clean 2 lbs of mushrooms. You can wipe them with a paper towel (shown here) or use a toothbrush to gently brush off the dirt.
4) Slice the mushrooms...
...and set aside.
5) Peel 4 cloves of garlic. I loosen the skins by giving them a gentle whack with an old wooden potato masher, but the more conventional method is to press down on the cloves with the side of your knife.
6) Finely mince the garlic.
7) Measure out 3/4 cup Marsala wine and set aside. Marsala is a fortified (with brandy) Italian wine that pairs beautifully with mushrooms in cooking.
8) We'll need two separate measurements of butter: 2 T. of butter for the vegetable filling and 4 T. of butter for the (bechamel) sauce...
...and you'll need 1/4 cup of flour for the bechamel. Bechamel is a milk-based sauce; we'll be using 1 quart of whole milk for it.
9) And what's lasagna with out cheese?...here I am grating 2 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese (about 8 ounces) on to a paper towel...
...so I can easily transfer the grated cheese to the measuring cup.
...we can use an egg slicer to slice it. If you don't have an egg slicer, you can of course cut slices with a knife, but using the egg slicer you get nice even slices...
11) Grind up a small bit of fresh nutmeg. We will be adding this to the bechamel.
12) How are the artichoke hearts doing? If they haven't completely thawed, you can finish the job in the microwave. The thawed artichoke hearts will have a lot of moisture; you want to squeeze as much of this moisture out as possible...
...the squeezed artichoke hearts should looks like this--a little squished but that's OK because next we're going to...
...chop the artichoke hearts coarsely.
~ The mise en place is now done; time to start cooking ~
13) Over medium heat, melt the 2 Tablespoons of butter in a dutch oven.
14) When the butter's completely melted, toss in the sliced mushrooms. They will initially crowd the pan a bit but...
...the mushrooms will definitely cook down as heat releases both air and water from the mushroom cells. Cook the mushrooms over medium heat (stirring occasionally) until they've lost most of their volume.
15) Add the minced garlic and cook the mushroom/garlic mixture for another couple of minutes or so. (Note my dainty pinky extension.)
16) Pour in the Marsala wine...
...increase the heat to medium-high and cook the mixture (stirring occasionally) until all the moisture is evaporated. This could take up to 15 to 20 minutes: a great time to do a bit of kitchen clean-up as you keep an eye on the mushrooms. Cleaning as you go along is probably one of those things you learned in girl (or boy) scouts, but it really does make for a less stressful cooking experience.
17) With the liquid evaporated from the mushroom mixture, mix in the chopped artichoke hearts.
18) Finally, adjust the seasoning on the filling. I wound up adding about a 1/2 teaspoon salt. One lesson I learned in chef's school is that every element of a dish should taste delicious on its own. So taste the filling...and add a bit of salt until it tastes absolutely delicious.
~ On to the bechamel sauce ~
19) Over medium heat, melt the 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy saucepan.
20) Mix in the flour...
...and cook the flour, stirring, for about a minute.
21) Gradually stir in the milk...
...and cook the bechamel, stirring, until it thickens (it should lightly coat the back of a spoon). It could take up to 20 minutes for the sauce to get to the right consistency, simmering over medium heat. The sauce probably won't need your full-time attention, though, so now is another good chance to do a little kitchen clean-up while you monitor (and stir) the simmering sauce.
22) Into the warm, thickened bechamel add 1 1/2 cups of the grated Parmesan cheese. That will leave 1 cup of the Parmesan for sprinkling on the lasagna layers. Stir until the cheese is completely melted into the sauce.
23) The final touch for the bechamel is freshly-ground nutmeg to taste. I actually didn't use all that I ground (shown here); I probably used a scant 1/4 teaspoon. Remove the bechamel from the heat.
~ Time to assemble! If you are going to be baking the lasagna right away, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. ~
Here's my little assembly station. Note the 9"x13" glass baking dish--that's the destination for all our ingredients. You can also use a metal 9"x13" inch pan; I was making this for company and I thought it would look prettier served in a glass dish.
24) The first assembly step is to put 1 cup of the bechamel on the bottom of the pan. Because I know my ladle holds 1/2 cup, for me that's 2 ladles-worth...
...spread out the sauce so you've got a nice even covering on the bottom.
* 25) The no-boil lasagna noodles are next. Note how there is space between them. That's because they will expand--quite a bit--during baking.
* 26) Spread half of the filling over the noodles. You want the layer to go completely to the sides of the pan (as shown here)--even though that does extend them a bit beyond the noodle layer.
* 27) More sauce is next--another 1 cup of bechamel spread over the filling...
...do your best to get the sauce evenly over the filling.
* 28) The first part of the cheese layer is half of the fresh mozzarella slices...
...sprinkle over the mozzarella 1/3 cup of the remaining Parmesan cheese.
~ To create the second layer, repeat steps 25-28 (these are marked with an asterisk) ~
Here I am finishing up the second layer.
29) The final layer consists of noodles...
...and a final sprinkling of 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
30) Cover with foil. It's ready to either put in the oven or stash in the fridge until you need to bake it.
~ Bake the lasagna, covered with foil on the oven's middle rack, for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (If starting with a chilled lasagna, increase the baking time to 1 hour and 15 minutes.) ~
~ Remove the lasagna from the oven and turn the oven's broiler on to Hi. Remove the foil and return the lasagna to the oven (still keeping it on the middle rack). ~
While the lasagna is in the oven on "broil" watch it carefully as the cheese begins to brown and bubble. It should take 5 to 8 minutes for the cheese to become browned and a bit toasty.
~ Remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before serving. ~
3 8-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup Marsala wine
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 8 ounces)
freshly ground nutmeg
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 8-ounce package oven-ready (no-boil) lasagna noodles (Ronzoni recommended)
- Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the mushrooms and cook until they have lost most of their volume, 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes more.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add the Marsala.
- Cook the mushroom/garlic/Marsala mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed. This could take 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped artichoke hearts.
- Season the filling to taste with salt and set aside.
- Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the flour; stir 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in the milk.
- Simmer the sauce over medium heat until sauce thickens stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. The sauce should lightly coat the back of a spoon.
- Stir in 1 1/2 cups Parmesan into the warm sauce. Keep stirring until the cheese has completely melted into the sauce.
- Season to taste ground nutmeg. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
- Spread 1 cup of the bechamel sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
- Top with no-boil lasagna noodles according to the package directions (there should be some space between the noodles since they will expand when baked).
- Spread half of the filling over the noodles.
- Spread 1 cup of bechamel over the filling.
- Arrange half of the fresh mozzarella slices over the bechamel.
- Sprinkle 1/3 cup Parmesan over the mozzarella.
- Repeat assembly steps 2-6 for the second layer.
- Add a final (third) layer of noodles.
- Spread the remaining 1 cup of bechamel over the noodles.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan over the bechamel.
The lasagna can be assembled up to 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the lasagna, on oven's center rack and covered with foil, for 1 hour (or 1 hour 15 minutes if chilled).
Remove the foil and turn the oven's broiler to High. Remove the foil and return the lasagna to the oven (still keeping it on the middle rack). While the lasagna is in the oven on "broil" watch it carefully as the cheese begins to brown and bubble. It should take 5 to 8 minutes for the cheese to become browned and a bit toasty.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! To view more step-by-step recipes, see the complete recipe index.
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