Benedict is the first Pope to retire in nearly 600 years, proof that the Vatican must be a really exciting place to live. Still, if I were a priest, I think I would prefer to live in The Big Easy, The City That Care Forgot — in New Orleans, where the confessionals probably are enough to make a reality TV producer blush. Still, as mischievous as the city can be, some folks are more pious, asking for little more than a winning Saints game and good bowl of pasta on Sundays.
As proof that our prayers are answered, this recipe is provided by Monsignor Christopher Nalty, who recently returned to New Orleans after ten years at the Vatican. In Rome, he became a devout believer in pasta, and is said to have kept his fellow priests well-fed with an inspired bucatini all’amatriciana. Back in New Orleans, he is still nourishing his flock, and recently prepared this lasagna ai funghi e tartufi (which he adapted from Taverna Giula in Rome). Sinful maybe, but this lasagna is truly heaven-sent.
Sunday Pasta® Recipe: Lasagna ai Funghi e Tartufi (Mushrooms)
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- 1 pound lasagn,preferably fresh pasta, thin sheets, egg pasta parboiled
- 3 cups Béchamel sauce
- 16 ounces mozzarella, chopped
- 1 ounce black truffle, shaved or minced (if available)
- 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (any mixture of fresh mushrooms or dried porcini)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 ounces truffle oil (if available)
- Salt, to taste
- Ground white pepper, to taste
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
For the Béchamel Sauce:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 8 ounces butter
- 3 cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground white pepper to taste
- 1 ounce black truffle, shaved or minced
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Ideally, this lasagna will be about seven thin layers, so better to use a slightly smaller, but deeper baking dish.
- Wash the mushrooms thoroughly in cold water. If using dried porcini, reconstitute them in water per the package directions. Slice them into bite-sized pieces. In a large skillet,over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 1/4 cup olive oil. Cook and simmer 10-15 minutes until their liquid evaporates and they are well cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with truffle oil and remove from heat.
Prepare the Béchamel Sauce:
- In a non-reactive saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour.Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for 3 minutes. Add the milk. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix in half the truffles and the remaining truffle oil. Stir until the mixture is slightly thicker than buttermilk.
Assemble the Lasagna:
- Drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil, and then add the first sheet of pasta. Cover with a spoonful of Béchamel, then some mushrooms, then some mozzarella. Add another layer of pasta, and repeat the layers, using a proportionate amount of Béchamel, mushrooms and mozzarella between the pasta layers. Sprinkle the top layer with grated Parmigiano, and cover with foil, then bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and broil until the top is golden brown. Let sit for ten minutes and serve, with a sprinkle of shaved truffles.