For this intensely mushroomy lasagna, brawny portabellas and shiitakes cook down until their flavors are concentrated. Then they're layered with a creamy, velvety sauce and sheets of no-boil pasta, which are thinner than regular dried pasta.
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (1/2 lb.)
1 qt. milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
About 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
About 1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided
About 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 medium leeks, sliced into thin rings
1 1/2 pounds portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. coarsely shredded asiago cheese
How to Make It
Soften noodles in a pan of very hot water while you prep the other ingredients.
Make béchamel (white sauce): Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from heat. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, 2 minutes. Whisk milk into flour mixture all at once and whisk until smooth. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and the nutmeg. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon; if it isn't, cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in garlic, 2 tbsp. parsley, and 1/2 tbsp. thyme. Keep covered.
Preheat oven to 375°. Heat a deep, wide pot over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Swirl in 1 tbsp. oil and add leeks. Cook until tender but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Scoop leeks into a bowl and set aside.
Swirl 2 tbsp. oil into pot. Add mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat, covered, until mushrooms are tender and beginning to release juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until edges start to brown. Stir in leeks and remaining 1/2 tbsp. thyme. Remove from heat.
Mix parmesan with asiago.
Assemble lasagna: Oil a 9- by 13-in. baking dish. Spread a few spoonfuls of béchamel over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles crosswise in dish, then spoon on about 1/2 cup béchamel, followed by a third of the mushrooms and 1/3 cup cheeses. Repeat layers twice more. Top with a final layer of noodles and béchamel, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake lasagna until browned and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp. parsley and let sit at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Make ahead: Through step 6, 1 day, chilled, or up to 3 months, frozen. Let chilled lasagna sit at room temperature 1 hour before baking. Frozen lasagna can either be thawed in the refrigerator overnight and then baked, or baked straight from the freezer for 1 3/4 hours (cover for first hour).
TIPS FOR COOKS Shop: Regardless of variety, all mushrooms should smell sweet and earthy and have dry, firm, undamaged caps. If they're spongy or sticky, steer clear. Store: Keep in a paper bag (storing them in plastic rots them), chilled, up to 4 days. Even if they become completely dry, they'll be fine in stews; the juices plump them back up. Clean: Wipe with a barely damp paper towel. If they're very dirty or sandy, swish briefly in cold water and scrub with a small brush, then dry immediately (they get soggy fast). To cook or not to cook?: Most experts advise cooking all edible mushrooms because, to varying degrees (and depending on the person), they're difficult to digest raw. Also, many have toxins that cooking destroys. However, there's no conclusive proof that eating mild raw mushrooms, especially in moderation, is harmful.
I first tried this dish at a birthday party for a friend, and it was so unbelievably delicious that I had to get the recipe from the hostess. She used fresh pasta in hers, which makes it even more amazing, and she substituted crimini mushrooms for some of the portabella, so there were 3 different kind of mushrooms in it. The recipe is easy to make. If you use fresh pasta, buy three sheets and cut them into strips and don't cook it first. Buy the best quality cheese you can find and grate it yourself - this makes a lot of difference in the taste. The first time I made it, I cooked the bechamel a little too long which made it too thick, but my friends all loved the result and didn't notice. This is just an outstanding recipe, makes a beautiful presentation with the fresh herbs sprinkled at the end, and is sure to impress foodie friends. Even my friends who normally avoid mushrooms still rave about it.