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My mother has always had the knack for making great lasagne. She definitely perfected the traditional version comprising tomato sauce, mozzarella, and ricotta. Here, I have replaced the tomatoes with wild mushrooms, leeks, and a creamy béchamel made with Gorgonzola. If wild mushrooms are unavailable, use whichever cultivated mushrooms look best.
Serves 8 to 10
TO DRINK: Red Burgundy or Rioja
1 pound dried lasagne noodles15 ounces ricotta cheese3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeseSalt and freshly ground black pepper1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil5 large leeks, white plus 3 inches of thegreen part, cut into 1-inch dice1 1/2 pounds wild mushrooms, thinly sliced5 garlic cloves, minced1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour3 1/2 cups whole milk6 ounces Gorgonzola, Stilton, orRoquefort cheeseFreshly grated nutmeg4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagne noodles and cook until al dente, 8 to 12 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, fill a large bowl with cold water. When the pasta is done, drain the pasta and place in the bowl of water to cool. After 5 minutes, drain the pasta and place the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta and Parmigiano, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very soft and light golden, about 30 minutes. Remove the leeks from the pan and reserve.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft and the liquid has evaporated, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add to the leeks and stir together.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, uncovered, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk and whisk constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the Gorgonzola and stir until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a single layer of pasta. Cover the pasta with one-third of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle one-third of the mushroom-leek mixture over the ricotta. Spread one-third of the cheese sauce over the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining 2 layers. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top layer. Bake on the top rack of the oven until the surface is golden and bubbling around the edges, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.
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