If I can cook it, you can cook it And I'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

Meaty Mushroom Lasagna adapted from Giada di Laurentiis

         There are few dishes that are better to have on hand than lasagna. Over the years, we’ve all suffered through terrible versions of lasagna–people making the stuff with cottage cheese or ricotta, throwing in chunks of sausage instead of a proper meat sauce, jarred marinara called into use in lieu of homemade–let’s face it, lasagna is often terrible, especially the versions made directly from a box of lasagna noodles.  

          But if you go to the trouble of making a simple béchamel sauce with cheese, making a filling of meat sauce or vegetables  you are on your way to real lasagna. Made up in advance, its flavors meld into each other with the passage of a couple of days.  Kept sealed until plastic wrap topped with a layer of aluminum foil, this lasagna spent a whole week in the fridge before being baked on a night when we had a lot going on.  Nothing could have been easier than firing up the oven, baking the lasagna for 40 minutes, tossing a green salad then sitting down to dinner. 

          Today’s version is a wonderfully rich pasta with layers of creamy béchamel, peppery mushrooms, smoky cheese and tiny pieces of prosciutto.  It’s so rich, you may want to practice some portion control when you serve it.  If you have leftovers, reheated in the oven, they too keep for a very long time and can easily make a quick meal anytime you need one.  Now I’ve made classic lasagna for years sharing it with you in its most classic of recipes: http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/02/lasagna-verdi-al-forno.html  We’ve also gone totally vegetarian with one version: http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/09/vegetarian-lasagna-adapted-from-saveurs.html. But this lasagna straddles the line with its emphasis on meaty mushrooms and the secondary role the prosciutto takes.  What really comes to the fore is the use of smoked Mozzarella. It changes the character of the whole dish. 

Dino and Giada de Laurentiis 

            Giada de Laurentiis is a tiny dynamo of a woman whose famous grandfather produced some of Hollywood’s most memorable spectaculars. Dino de Laurentiis made 150 films over the course of his 7 decade career including such classics as “La Strada” and “Nights of Cabiria”  The latter may be better known to you as the basis for the musical “Sweet Charity”.  His first movies were made in Italy but in 1976 he relocated not to Hollywood but to Wilmington, North Carolina.  He could make the claim that the still-thriving film and television production there was all his doing.   Among dozens of titles, he made “Serpico”, “Death Wish”, “Mandingo”, “Three Days of the Condor”, “Ragtime” and “Blue Velvet”.   He also introduced the world to Hannibal Lector with a film called “Manhunter”.  But he passed at making its sequel “The Silence of the Lambs”.  

         His granddaughter, Giada, was born in Rome.  But at an early age, her mother brought the family to Southern California.  Her parents divorced and Mother and children all took her maiden name, di Laurentiis. Giada comes by her food pedigree honestly:  Prior to his film career, Dino grew up selling spaghetti made by his father in the town of Torre Annunziata near Naples.   And Dino was quite the foodie himself owning and operating a specialty food retailer, DDL Foodshow with stores in New York and Los Angeles.  Giada studied at the Cordon Bleu and since then she’s been ubiquitous in food television and produced 6 cookbooks since 2005.  She sticks to her Italian roots but there’s a creative mind at work as there certainly was with this recipe for Meaty Mushroom lasagna.  There’s a lot to love here and getting it oven-ready will take you all of about an hour.

         For years, I made lasagna with long crinkle-edged strips of pasta that required boiling in hot water before being put to use in the lasagna dish. Inevitably the kitchen looked like some kind of drying yard for pasta.   The minute I heard about “no-boiling required” lasagna noodles, their sticky, thick cousins never made another appearance in our kitchen.  The “no-boiling required” version is so far superior!  The noodle itself is thinner and the size of about a large postcard.  They are so easy to handle. You just overlap them slightly and you’ve got a lovely thin layer of pasta.  Then it’s just a matter of layering the béchamel, the lasagna noodles, the mushroom mixture, the cheeses until you end up with a layer of béchamel and cheese to pop into your waiting oven.   Or do what I did.  Seal the whole pan up and save it for another day. Or week. 

4 thoughts on “Meaty Mushroom Lasagna adapted from Giada di Laurentiis”

  • Dear Katie, have you tried the big portobellos? They are the meat substitute in all kinds of vegetarian recipes. Give them a try and see if you like mushrooms when you've tasted these. Or check out the other two lasagnas I have on the blog. You can use the no-boil noodles there too! Have a great weekend. Monte

  • I've seen the "bellas" and, on your recommendation, will give them a try. I have tried the no-boil noodles and have never gone back. I agree with your opinion of the thicker ones, just not my fave. I do love homemade pasta….when I have time, which is limited. I dream of the day I can retire and just cook.

    I'll let your know how the bellas turn out.

    Thanks, Monte. You're a gem!


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