Ina Garten’s Mushroom Lasagna Is the Comforting Dinner I Keep Coming Back To

updated Apr 20, 2021
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Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

Flavorful Portobello mushrooms transform this vegetarian lasagna into a substantial main entree, but it can also be served as a side dish with a roast.

Serves6

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someone is pulling a peice of portobello lasagna with a metal spatula from the rest of the pan
Credit: Photo: Arie Knuston

One of the last times I had people over to my apartment before the start of the pandemic, I made one of my favorite dinners: Ina Garten’s portobello mushroom lasagna and a simple green salad. We sat around my table and drank good wine and laughed for hours and somehow it was suddenly midnight — the way the best kinds of dinner parties always go.

I haven’t seen those friends since that night, and I don’t know when I will. Even though my biggest joy the last couple of months has been seeing my friends and family get the vaccine, there’s still a ways to go, and it’ll be a long time before I’m comfortable seeing anyone. And that’s why the comfort foods I’m currently craving are the things I would normally make for others: cinnamon rolls flooded with icing, slivers of quiche Lorraine, and of course, Ina Garten’s Garfield-approved lasagna.

Credit: Photo: Arie Knuston

Why Ina’s Mushroom Lasagna Is Great for Dinner Parties (or Just for Yourself)

The recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa at Home, and it feels peak Ina with its everyday extravagance. The ingredient list is short and heavy on the “good” ingredients — mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, lasagna noodles, butter, milk — things I normally have in my fridge and pantry anyway. But while the recipe may seem simple enough, in truth it can also be a pain in the butt to make. You have to boil the noodles, and make a béchamel sauce, and sauté a ton of mushrooms until they get soft and small from cooking in their own juices. It’s a lot of pots and pans to use for one meal — but oh is it worth it.

Ina’s mushroom lasagna is just the right amount of decadent to feel special. Covered in béchamel sauce, you would think the lasagna would feel too heavy, but it doesn’t because of the earthiness of the mushrooms, and the tiniest amount of ground nutmeg. The nutmeg is truly the star of the recipe — it really breaks through all that richness and gives the lasagna just the lightest hint of sweetness. Whenever I make this for someone else, they always ask what that ingredient is that they just can’t make out. It’s always the nutmeg.

In a very 2021 twist, when I made the lasagna the first week of January, I didn’t just mess up making the béchamel once — but twice. I tried to multitask cooking the mushrooms while I made the béchamel, and the sauce seized. I was stressed. I felt dejected. Why am I writing a story about a “comfort food” recipe that stress me out? I thought. But then the lasagna came out of the oven, I took a bite standing up in my kitchen, and I remembered.

It’s not the same without friends, but it’s still pretty damn magical, even when you’re by yourself.

A Couple of Things to Consider When Making Ina’s Mushroom Lasagna

  • The lasagna feels a little short on mushrooms once they cook down, so I always add a few more ounces. That’s just a preference thing, but if you like mushrooms, I suggest you do the same.
  • Make sure to leave enough béchamel for the top of the lasagna! I find that using less at the beginning of the layering ensures I have enough.

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

Flavorful Portobello mushrooms transform this vegetarian lasagna into a substantial main entree, but it can also be served as a side dish with a roast.

Serves6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt

  • Good olive oil

  • 3/4 pound

    dried lasagna noodles

  • 4 cups

    whole milk

  • 12 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided (1 1/2 sticks)

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    portobello mushrooms

  • 1 cup

    freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

  3. For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.

  4. Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.

  5. To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8x12-inch, 2-inch deep baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then one-third of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat two more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

  6. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

To make this ahead, assemble the lasagna and keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Recipe courtesy of BAREFOOT CONTESSA AT HOME. Copyright © 2006 by Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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