This Thanksgiving I traveled to visit with my sister and her new baby boy… I noticed this is one of the few times in my life I have spent Thanksgiving outside Puerto Rico, besides the 2 Thanksgivings I spent while living in Chicago a few moons ago. Not even when I lived in NYC I spent Thanksgiving there. Nope… I’ve never seen the Macy’s Parade live. Always on TV.
Since I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve always been the one planning the main menu. If someone wants to bring turkey, they’re welcome… but I plan the menus and they’re all vegetarian for everyone to enjoy all the same. This year, we spent it at a relative’s home so I debated if we should bring something for my mom and me to eat or if we should eat before going there, just like we do for other type of occasions/celebrations.
We decided to make something to bring over because Thanksgiving is such a food celebration, it would feel weird not to eat anything while there. We decided to bring my Tomato Bruschetta as an appetizer because the hosts totally love it… I made a new version of my cranberry preserves, this time with a guava/piña Caribbean twist… and as the main event I prepared a Wild Mushroom Lasagna.
I’ve already mentioned The Boys Farmer’s Market… and they usually have such fresh mushrooms that I could not pass up the opportunity to cook something with an assortment of fresh wild mushrooms. I picked them all, not one came inside a package. It was wonderful…
WILD MUSHROOM LASAGNA
For the Mushroom Filling:
2 small Portobello mushrooms caps, sliced
5 large white mushrooms, sliced
¼ lbs oyster mushrooms, separated into “leaves”
½ large yellow onion, diced
¼ tsp thyme leaves
2 tbs minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Lasagna:
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 ½ cups part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tbs minced fresh parsley leaves, divided
3 tbs olive oil
½ large yellow onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbs spelt flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
9 whole wheat no-boil lasagna noodles
¼ cup Gorgonzola cheese, finely crumbled
½ cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
First, you make the mushroom filling…
- In the largest skillet you have, add olive oil and onions. Afterwards add the garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent for about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms in a single layer. Try not to crowd the pan… if it does, it’s better to make it in two separate batches. Allow the mushrooms to cook without moving them too much. They will brown and get a delicious flavor.
- After the mushrooms have browned on all sides, add salt, thyme and pepper. Mix a few more times and add the parsley. Allow the mushrooms to cool before adding them to the lasagna. You could also make this the night before if you’d like.
To make the sauce…
- Add olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 ½ minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Gradually whisk in milk and broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, whisking frequently. Add salt and bay leaf and reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure to scrape bottom and corners of saucepan.
- While the sauce cooks, place shredded Gruyère and 1/2 cup Parmesan in large heatproof bowl.
- Also, combine ricotta, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley in medium bowl. Set both bowls aside.
- Add the cream cheese to the thickened sauce. Stir until the cheese has melted. Remove saucepan from heat and discard bay leaf. Gradually whisk 1/4 cup sauce into ricotta mixture. Pour remaining sauce over Gruyère mixture and stir until smooth; set aside.
Now we assemble…
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Take a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
- Distribute 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of baking dish. Place 3 noodles in single layer on top of sauce.
- Spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture evenly over noodles and sprinkle evenly with parmesan and ½ the Gorgonzola. Drizzle more sauce evenly over cheese. Add a layer of the cooked mushrooms.
- Repeat the layering of dry noodles, sauce, ricotta, parmesan, Gorgonzola, mushrooms and more sauce.
- Place final 3 noodles on top and cover completely with remaining sauce, spreading with rubber spatula and allow spilling over noodles. Sprinkle evenly with more parmesan and ½ cup mozzarella.
- Cover lasagna with a piece of parchment paper and a piece of foil. Bake until edges are just bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes until surface is spotty brown. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons parsley.
I have always been curious about oyster mushrooms, but I have never made them before myself because the ones we get usually here in Puerto Rico always look old and wet… not fresh and beautiful like the ones you see on TV or when you visit markets in the US when traveling. So staying a few weeks with my sister in Southern Florida gave me the chance to use a few ingredients I have very limited access to in my homeland.
Anne Burrell made these oyster mushroom chips in one of her shows and I was completely inspired by the simplicity but also because she mentioned these mushrooms, after roasting in the oven, tasted like bacon. SAY WHAT?!?!??! That immediately caught my attention…
These are so easy to make… my 10-year old “nephew” David helped me out making these. He and his twin sister Marietta were wary because they both claimed they were not mushroom eaters. Boy, were they in for a surprise…
OYSTER MUSHROOM CHIPS
½ pound of fresh oyster mushrooms
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 425F
- Peel off each piece of mushroom from the stalk and separate them into individual “petals”. Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Arrange gill-side up in 2 baking sheets side by side to allow the mushrooms to cook well and for the edges to crisp up.
- Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes. They will shrink up considerably.
- Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool of a bit for about 2 minutes and scrape them off the baking sheet using a spatula.
If you’re not eating the right away… you can certainly place them again on a baking sheet and reheat them at 400F for about 5-8 minutes more.
We had to make this recipe TWICE because the first time we did them everyone was so excited that I did not get a chance to take any photographs. David liked them raw and cooked alike. Marietta was afraid of tasting them because “she doesn’t eat mushrooms” but was shocked and told me these did not taste like mushrooms at all. Her parents were in awe…
Even the skeptics were impressed and mentioned unaided these mushrooms tasted like bacon. I thought the crispy edges tasted more like “chicharrón” than bacon… so I can see more applications of these mushrooms in my future besides sprinkling them over a lettuce, sprout and cucumber salad.