I’ll admit - this is almost straight out of the new york times. The picture is theirs too, although mine looked even better. Lasagna is difficult for me just because it is one of few particularly fond food memories from growing up and so if the texture is too different - even if it’s good - it’s wrong. I don’t even remember where I ever had really good lasagna, but somewhere in my memory is the perfect combination of crispy, fatty, crumbly, creamy, chewy, and, of course, silky pasta. The problem with vegan lasagna in particular is that there is very little that we have which is creamy, melts, and caramelizes, so you have to think a little about the different components and the way they work together, which is why I have yet to figure out a really good tomato-based lasagna. Whatever - whenever I crack the code of vegan baked pastas, I plan to open a vegan lasagna kiosk where we serve 6 different kinds of Grade A lasagna (and a ziti!). This one will definitely be on that menu.
The hazelnuts in this - while obviously not resembling grated parmesan at all, seem to fill the same role: textural contrast; sorta-chewy, tasty fattiness. All the creaminess comes from the béchamel so the consistency of that is real important - I highly suggest weighing out the ingredients to the gram. A word of warning - the end of this recipe isn’t difficult but it takes awhile because it’s best layered, rested, cooked, rested, and reheated to serve so plan in advance.
- 1 tablepoon of minced Rosemary
- 500g semolina flour
- 200g water
- 3 g salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or rosemary-infused oil)
- 500g cold soy milk (preferably freshly made)
- 25g flour
- 25g olive oil
- 1 shallot, halved
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 pieces dried porcini
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 cup Hazelnuts
Place the flour, salt, and rosemary in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook. Mix it for 30 seconds on low, then add the water and continue mixing for 5 minutes, intermittently scraping down the sides and kneading it together with your hands. Keep mixing and kneading until it’s a solid ball, homogenous and smooth feeling - no graininess on your hands when you mix it. Then roll it in the oil. Wrap it up tightly in plastic and let it rest for 45 minutes or however long it takes to do the rest of the prep. Roll out the pasta on your machine into sheets, cut to the size of the baking pan. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the pasta for about 90 seconds, till it’s cooked through. remove from the pot onto an oiled sheet tray and spread them out so they don’t clump up.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour gradually, avoiding clumps. Add the shallot, herbs, porcini. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so that the roux (the mixture of flour and fat) takes on color evenly. When it becomes a deep khaki but not quite brown, vigorously whisk in the soymilk, trying to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer, making sure it doesn’t boil over, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
While the béchamel is simmering, heat the oil for the mushrooms in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, agitating once every minute or so until they start to brown on all sides. Add the shallots. Cook until the shallots just aren’t raw anymore. Add the wine and let reduce till the pan is almost dry. Remove from the heat. When the béchamel is done simmering and the mushrooms have cooled for a couple of minutes, pour the béchamel through a fine mesh strainer into the mushrooms. Mix well and taste the mixture. If needed, season this with salt, pepper, and the red wine vinegar.
Put the hazelnuts in a plastic bag and seal it. Lay the bag on a cutting board and smash it with the bottom of a pan. Try to get even sized pieces, each about ¼ the size of a hazelnut, but it will be messy. Just make sure none are left whole.
Layer the lasagna in a baking pan from the bottom up like so:
Mushrooms/Pasta/Mushrooms/Hazelnuts/pasta/mushrooms/hazelnuts/pasta/mushrooms/hazelnuts/pasta. On the top layer of pasta, you’ll want to spread some béchamel from the bottom of the skillet without any pieces of mushroom and then sprinkled with hazelnuts. The layers of mushrooms should be pretty thin, and the hazelnuts are really just sprinkled throughout, not even like a full layer. If you would like, you can add some small torn pieces of radicchio in the layers to add color and a real vegetable.
Wrap in plastic and let sit for awhile - anywhere from an hour to a day. Take off the plastic and cover with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 350 and pop the baking pan in. Cook for 30 minutes. Take off the aluminum foil and put under the broiler just until the top is lightly browned. Set off the heat and let sit for about an hour or up to a day, refrigerating if it‘s going to be sitting for more than 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, heat the oven to 300. Cook the lasagna for about 30 minutes, just till it’s heated through, and serve family style.