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.
Printable version of recipe here.
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
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.
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:
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