Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Soul Food: Ricotta Pesto & Mushroom Lasagne

Lasagne Mushroom Pesto (01a) by MeetaK

At the beginning of the year the lovely Nupur from One Hot Stove, who regularly contributes to the Daily Tiffin wrote a very motivating article about The Simple Life. The main essence of the post was voluntarily simplifying your life by downsizing on materialistic ideals.

The article really motivated me and made me persevere a road I was trying to follow for a while already. Even if it was by no means to an extent that would be considered as simple living, I was trying to simplify many aspects of my life. However, I am failing in one department.  

I have a shoe and handbag fetish. I have a huge problem going past shoe stores without peeking into shop windows. Normally, this leads into peeking inside the store, which leads into trying on a pair of shoes and ultimately me walking out of the store - with a pair of sinfully expensive Italian leather shoes.

Why do you need another pair of shoes? To this question I can give you a 100 reasons within a matter of minutes. I have trained myself well - so well that I believe all the reasons myself!

Last summer I bought a pair of gorgeous Italian beige leather stilettos - very high, very pointed and very elegant. I've only worn them once. That was until this week! I decided to wear them to work with a pair of pinstriped beige trousers. The outfit really looked great and I thought to myself that these shoes will be my summer hit this year.

Change of subject

Weimar is a gorgeous town. It's quaint elegance mixes cultural history with modern art in perfect harmony. It's a town where Schiller, Goethe, Van de Velde and Gropius all helped to shape it into what it is today. The inner core of the town in a pedestrian zone and the streets are paved with old cobblestones, that on a normal day adds to the flair of Weimar.

On this day however, the cobblestones do not add flair but bring dismay.

You see, cobblestone streets are the worst enemies of gorgeous stilettos. On this day, mine in particular!

On this day the cobblestones brutally massacred one of my stilettos! I was extremely pissed to say the least. Every dark cloud has a silver lining - or so they say. Because as I turned around I noticed I was right in front of my favorite shoe shop - the same where I had bought the stilettos I was now holding in my hands. My luck had not run out, the store owner saw what happened and offered to send the stilettos to their factory in Italy so that they could repair the damage and if not, I was told, they would make sure I would get a new pair - for free! "Anything for our best customer!" No way! Me? Is that an honorable title to have?

I was so ecstatic about my stilettos getting repaired that I was very easily persuaded to try on their latest summer collection. I obliged. And I walked out of the store - with a pair of lovely leather ballerinas. Perfect for the cobblestone streets of Weimar!

There is certainly no downsizing with this recipe. It's perfect for days like this, where you need comfort but also a reason to celebrate. The lasagne takes the simple pesto alla Genovese a step further and adds creamy ricotta. A mushroom mix lend the entire dish a lovely earthy flavor bringing everything together so perfectly that you'll be begging for more.


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Lasagne Mushroom Pesto (03) by MeetaK

500g fresh lasagne, homemade or store bought
Salt and pepper

For the Mushrooms
100g dried Porcini mushrooms
950 g fresh mixed mushrooms, portobellos, shitake etc., thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2-3 sprigs of thyme, chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
300 ml vegetable stock

For Ricotta Basil Pesto
150g fresh basil leaves
135g pine nuts 3 garlic cloves
170ml olive oil
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
250g fresh ricotta
30g + extra Parmesan cheese, grated


Method

Lasagne Mushroom Pesto (02) by MeetaK

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter a lasagne baking dish.

Soak the dried Porcini mushrooms in warm water for approx. 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze the access liquid from the mushrooms well, reserving the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms. In a large pan heat half of the oil and all of the butter until foaming. Now add the onions and garlic, sautéing until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 4-5 minutes on high heat until tender. Stir in the herbs and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Pour in the stock and the Porcini soaking liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To make the pesto, add the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt into a food processor and pulse finely. Gradually beat in the olive oil, butter and parmesan cheese and blend until the mixture turns creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the ricotta until incorporated.

To assemble the lasagne, line the prepared dish with a layer of fresh lasagne sheets. Cover with a layer of ricotta basil pesto. Cover this with more pasta sheets, then layer with the mushrooms, layer with lasagne sheets. Repeat this process until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a final layer of mushrooms.

Sprinkle with additional grated parmesan and dot with butter flakes. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Uncover the dish then bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the top is golden.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving. Serve with a tossed green salad.


Verdict

Lasagne Mushroom Pesto (04) by MeetaK

This makes me almost forget shoes. Because I have left them piled in front of the door and have slipped into my comfy flip flops. The lasagne offers comfort and is perfect soul food. The basil pesto highlighted with the creaminess of ricotta layered with pasta and wild mushrooms bring out a delicious palette of flavors and aromas. Both Tom and Soeren dug into the lasagne with hearty fervor. I relished each spoonful - wriggling my toes with satisfaction.  

19 - 25 May is National Vegetarian Week in the UK and once again, Abby of Eat The Right Stuff is celebrating the event by getting all of us to contribute to her event Vegetables Beautiful Vegetables. Last year I created a wonderfully caramelized vegetable tart and this year I am coming over with a huge portion of the lasagne. Hope to see you all there!

You might enjoy these vegetable creations too:

VegPotPie 02
Ricotta Vegetable Pot Pies
Bulgur Mixed Veg and Feta 02
Bulgur with Vegetables & Feta
AsparagusLunch01
Roasted Asparagus with Poached Eggs, Sauce Hollandaise and Potatoes



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

31 comments :

  1. Well, Meeta perhaps you just need to aim to keep some part of your life simple and it won't be in the shoe part of your closet ;)) what an incredibly funny and fun story. Shoes repaired and all!
    LOVE the lasagne.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That mushroom lasagna looks good! Nice photos! I like the sound of combining the mushrooms with the ricotta pesto.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Everyone is entitled to a little indulgence, and if shoes are yours, well there is no harm in that. The lasagna looks delicious and oh-so-comforting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This lasagna does sound really delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice to know about ur love for shoes..:D and the lasagna looks yummy Meeta!

    Siri

    ReplyDelete
  6. I confess I have a bit of a shoe and handbag fetish myself. But NO stilettos! Never again!

    Love the sound of the lasagna!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a combination of many of my favorite ingredients. Thanks for the great recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Meeta..love your blog..its so beautiful.!
    I completely understand the shoe and bag obsession..!This is how God made us..! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's how my shoe story goes, if I wear heels in Bombay :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm a sucker for shoes, too, if it's any consolation, sweetie - those stilettos sound divine! :)

    This is my kind of lasagna - anything with ricotta and pesto has a special place in my heart!

    ReplyDelete
  11. that looks absolutely delicious Meeta! I'm getting very hungry now. And such a funny shoe story - you probably can give Carrie Bradshaw a run for her money :)

    So sorry I missed the Bollywood mingle (I love Indian food) but I was juggling way too many plates as it was. I did spot a ras malai recipe though - my absolute favourite!

    ReplyDelete
  12. He, he! Your story with the shoes is fun :D. It's the same with me but I still have to get better at the 100 reasons and also at the buying point... maybe you should post the reasons so that I can convince myself and my husband ;-)

    Your lasaña is fantastic, but since I'm not a cheese lover, maybe I'd change the cheese for some iberian ham! Salud!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ack!! So sorry about your stilettos :0( I'm a shoe-fanatic, so I would have died, haha. Hang in there!! On a brighter note, that lasagna looks delicious!! Love the greener variation :0)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mmmm I love pesto - this sounds amazing.
    For more great pesto recipes, check out: http://iheartpesto.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. this sure looks pretty! my husband would love it:) and yeah, I'm still drooling over your pasta with asparagus, even linked to it on my post:) I think I'm gonna cook asparagus more often now!!:)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nothing, I repeat, nothing beats homemade pesto. Looks fabulous. I can only imagine what it tasted like :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sorry to hear about the shoes, but sure sounds like things worked out, so congrats on the shoes, lol! I really like what you did with this lasagna--its a great looking change from the norm that looks really tasty.

    ReplyDelete
  18. such a lovely dish meeta - i dream of mushroom lasgne but with a boyfriend who hates them it's taking its while to materialise!

    thanks for supporting vegetables, beautiful vegetables!

    ReplyDelete
  19. We all have a weakness - it sounds like yours is shoes!

    This dish looks so delicious and comforting. Wanna come over and make dinner at my house tonight!!?? :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have to make lasagna for 35 vegetarians next weeks and you have just given me the answer to my dilemma.Thank you so much for sharing, Meeta.

    ReplyDelete
  21. that lasagna looks absolutely divine... cobblestone streets are not a girl's best friend, but shoes and handbags ARE!! lovely story, Meeta - thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I admit, I don't get the shoe thing (especially dress shoes, which I dislike with a passion) but I get the lasagna and I like it!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow, the lasagna looks delicious. I've never had one based on mushroom and would love to try. Great story as well. I admit I have a little bit of a shoe obsession as well. A HUGE box just came from endless.com. I told myself I'd return one...but I doubt that'll happen :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love ur blog ...I sure would try it out ..

    ReplyDelete
  25. I knew many of you ladies would share my passion - for the shoes and for the food!
    Yes, many of my girlfriends say I would give Carrie Bradshaw a run for her shoes - but in this case I would say the shoes are greener on the other side LOL!

    Thanks for your comments and thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I never can resist mushrooms. Printing .... Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Meeta, I just saw Lisa's take on this and I'm floored at how good both dishes look (and sound for eating).

    Dishes like this make me want to go vegetarian!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta