Do you ever have those days where inspiration fails to strike you? Where you're sitting waiting for the words to flow from your fingers but you remain blocked and your fingers unmoving? Where you look at the sky for raindrops of inspiration to fall on you searching out the clouds but none appear? Well I was having one of those days when I made this lasagna.
I considered not posting this up because the photos weren't exactly appealing. I find lasagne hard to photograph at the best of times but a mushroom coloured one with a limited colour palette was particularly challenging. But the proof was in Mr NQN's reaction to it. He wolfed it down within minutes and asked for more.
It was a recipe based on an Ina Garten one-a simple lasagna with mushrooms and bechamel sauce but with added garlic which always adds so much to mushrooms. I made it a smaller lasagna to feed two people too so feel free to double the recipe for a family sized lasagna. I used some leftover lasagna sheets that I had from a lasagna experiment gone totally wrong and pushed it into the oven with a sigh echoing the sigh that I was feeling the whole day. Sometimes days are just a sigh...
I pulled it out of the oven and looked at it. It smelled great but it didn't transform into a cake or anything so I wasn't particularly excited. Even spearing some while hot it was good but the trick with this lasagna is to eat it when it isn't piping hot. Allow it to cool a bit, longer is better and it is absolutely delicious when lukewarm. Yes some days are just lukewarm days but even those lukewarm days are ok.
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you do on lukewarm days? And how do you find inspiration or conquer writer's block?
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten. Serves 2.
- 450g/1 pound mushrooms
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- oil for frying
- 50g/1.7ozs butter
- 4 tablespoons plain all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, warmed
- a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 150g dried oven ready lasagna sheets (5 sheets)
- 1/2 cup reggiano cheese
- salt and pepper
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Brush mushrooms clean with a pastry brush and slice finely. Chop garlic too. Heat a saucepan or cast iron pot on medium heat and fry the mushrooms and garlic in two batches. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Step 2 - I use the same pot for the bechamel sauce. Using a flat bottomed wooden spoon or spatula, melt the butter and then add the flour and cook for a minute making sure that the flour doesn't stick to the bottom. Then gradually add the milk (I find it easiest to take the pot off the heat to do this) until the milk is combined and the mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 3 - Grease a small rectangular pan. Even though the lasagna sheets don't require boiling, as this isn't quite as liquid as a tomato sauce, I wet the sheets individually under cold water just to help them become softer. In a tray add some of the bechamel sauce, then add a moistened lasagna sheet. Then top with mushrooms, then another sheet, then more bechamel and so on until you have one lasagna sheet left. Add more bechamel on this and then sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Lasagna is easier to cut once it has cooled down a bit.