Everyone has a favorite recipe for lasagna, but not many people know history of this beloved food. Like the earliest versions of pizza, lasagna has been traced back to the ancient Greeks.
When the Romans overthrew Greece and occupied the country around 146 BC, they set about adopting local knowledge, culture, language and food as their own. The Greek word laganon, used to describe flat dough sliced into strips, is believed to be the origin of the word lasagna. While the Greeks didn't invent the hearty pasta dish we know and love, they did inspire one of the world's oldest pastas.
Modern day lasagna, the richly layered dish swimming in sumptuous tomato sauce, made its debut in Naples, Italy, during the Middle Ages. Laboriously crafted and fit for a crowd, lasagna was savored on special occasions. While traditional Italian lasagna features ragù, béchamel and Parmigiano-Reggiano hugged between layers of pasta, Italian immigrants brought their favorite variations to America beginning in the late 1800s.
Our Portabella Lasagna recipe features layers of pasta, meaty portabella mushrooms, spinach and Parmesan cheese in a béchamel sauce.
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- 3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
- 4 cups whole milk
- 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 24 ounces Monterey Mushrooms® Portabella® mushrooms (about 6 medium caps)
- 5 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup freshly ground Parmesan
*Selecting Monterey Mushrooms® "High Vitamin D" Mushrooms will provide you with 400 IU's of vitamin D per 3 oz serving, which is 50% of the Daily Value as recommended by the FDA.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Remove from the heat.
- Slice the portabella 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 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.
- In the same pan, add a tablespoon of oil and sauté the spinach. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/3rd of a cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9”x13”x2” baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, spinach 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.
- Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.