Tag Archives: leeks

Mushroom-Leek Lasagna

Cheesy, creamy, loaded with mushrooms, Mushroom-Leek Lasagna is a nice alternative to lasagna with meat sauce and a great casserole for a cold winter’s night. My husband can only take so many mushrooms—go figure—so I’m freezing half of it, instead of insisting on a week’s worth of leftovers. I did use a ton of mushrooms, and only some of them were his favorite shiitake, so I understand his apprehension, but he did eat one and a half servings. We both agreed that this white lasagna was less filling than the traditional red lasagna, which can seem heavy. It was very good, says this mushroom lover.

Mushroom-Leek Lasagna

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Preheat oven to 350°; grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or two 8 inch square dishes if you want to freeze one.

Ingredients

Substitute your favorite mushrooms, and keep in mind that they cook down, so you need a lot.

  • Mushroom-leek filling:
    • 16 oz shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
    • 24 oz baby portobella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
    • 8 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
    • 3 oz maitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced in strips
    • 3 leeks, white portion only, cleaned and thinly sliced
    • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil for sautéing mushrooms
    • Salt & pepper to taste (I seasoned each batch of leeks and mushrooms)
  • Ricotta filling:
    • 2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 2 teaspoons dried or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
    • 1 lb fontina cheese, grated
  • 4 cups medium white sauce (béchamel, if you want to use your French). See recipe below.
  • Whole wheat no-boil lasagna noodles (my package was 9 oz)

Preparation

  1. Mix ingredients for ricotta filling and set aside or refrigerate until assembly.
  2. Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Remove to large mixing bowl.
  3. Sauté mushrooms in batches in olive oil over medium-high heat until slightly browned. I cooked the shiitake first, because they are more delicate than the others. I cooked the baby bella and white mushrooms together until all the liquid they exude evaporates and the mushrooms brown a little. I cooked the maitake last in very high heat to brown well. Remove each batch of cooked mushrooms to the bowl with the leeks. Mix the leeks and mushrooms to combine. I would say you need about 6-8 cups of cooked mushrooms to make full layers.
  4. Lay one layer of noodles in the bottom of the baking dish.
  5. Cover with half the the ricotta filling.
  6. Cover the ricotta with half the mushroom-leek mixture.
  7. Cover the mushroom-leek mixture with 1/3 of the fontina cheese.
  8. Cover the layer with 1/3 of the white sauce.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 to make a second layer.
  10. Place a third layer of lasagna noodles over the second layer, pressing slightly to compact the lasagna. Pour remaining white sauce over the noodles and sprinkle the remaining fontina chees on top.
  11. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 30 minutes or until top is browned and the noodles are tender.
  12. Cut the lasagna into 8 large squares.

Medium White Sauce

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Increase ingredients to make 4 cups:

For every 1 cup of sauce, use

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup of milk—you may scald the milk first in a saucepan or microwave
  • dash of ground nutmeg

Melt the butter over medium low heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until all the flour is incorporated. It will be a very thick mixture. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring continuously. You shouldn’t get any lumps, but I notice that current recipes suggest whisking. I never had to use a whisk to avoid lumps, but I think the slow addition of the milk is key. Continue to stir, lowering the heat to a simmer if your stove cooks hot, until thickened.

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Converting a Recipe: “Decadent Pork Ragu” in a Slow Cooker

I couldn’t get that recipe that I re-blogged earlier this week out of my head, but I wanted to do something a little different with it, so I converted it to a slow-cooker recipe. The original recipe is from The Travelling Pantry (see my re-blog from September 30).

I’ve become so stuck on cooking pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches, that they are on the verge of becoming boring. Well, that’s a stretch, because pulled pork is one of those delights that are hard to beat. Maybe they have just become too easy to cook without making a mistake. Whatever the case, this recipe has led me to think of other things to do with the shredded meat, so I’m starting with it, and we’ll see what else I can come up with on my own later.

I’m using the slow cooker method that I posted on September 24, but with the ingredients from The Travelling Pantry. I noticed that the original recipe calls for crushed tomatoes, and I had been planning to make some for the freezer, so it was really serendipity that this recipe crossed my path at the same time my garden was pushing more tomatoes on me—really, October and the tomatoes are still ripening?

So, what prompts you to convert a recipe? Is it mostly based on what you have or don’t have in your pantry? Is it some ingredient that you fancy using, maybe for the first time? Or do you have a few recipes in your repertoire that you just know together would make an even better dish?

Then how do you go about converting recipes? Usually, I just boldly say yes or no to some of the ingredients, and just as boldly add what I think will work. In this conversion, I mostly followed the ingredients from the original recipe, but used the slow cooker method of cooking. My biggest concern was that I would have more liquid in the sauce, both from using the slow-cooker and from any difference between my homemade crushed tomatoes and canned ones. I’ll give ingredient comparisons and substitutions in the recipe.

Make sure you see the professionally-styled photos on the original recipe site.

 

'Decadent Pork Ragu' in a Slow Cooker

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
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Adapted for the slow cooker from The Travelling Pantry.com

1 2.5-3 lb boneless pork butt, netting removed (Original: 1 kg boneless pork shoulder, cut in half)

3.5-4 cups homemade or canned crushed tomatoes (Original: 800g crushed or tinned cherry tomatoes)

1 medium onion, 1 leek, 1 rib celery, sliced (Original: 1 each of onion, leek and celery stalk – finely chopped)

1.5 tablespoons olive oil (Original: 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil)

12 oz thick-sliced bacon, diced (Original: 350g pancetta, finely diced)

1/2 cup beef stock (Original: 150ml Madeira)

1 cup deli black olives, not oil-cured (Original: 200g black Ligurian olives, pitted) [I couldn’t find that kind of olive anywhere and still have no idea what they are.]

2 tablespoons marjoram leaves (Original: 11/2 tbsp marjoram leaves, plus extra to serve) [I forgot about the extra and whirred them all up in the blender.]

2 tablespoons butter (Original: 30g butter, coarsely chopped)

1 lb pasta that holds up to a heavy sauce; I used Wegmans Organic Riccioli (Original: 750 dried pasta [“rigatoni works well, I used Mafadelle on this occasion”])

Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish (not in original ingredient list, but added at end of post—I missed it the first time)

  1. Sauté onion, leek, and celery in olive oil over medium heat with light salt and pepper seasoning. Remove to slow cooker.
  2. In same pan, brown diced bacon. Remove to slow cooker. I suspect the substitution of bacon for pancetta might have made the biggest difference in the final taste. My bacon was apple wood smoked. Pancetta is not smoked, but cured in salt and dried.
  3. In same pan, heat crushed tomatoes to warm if they have been refrigerated. Add to slow cooker.
  4. Add beef stock to slow cooker. This addition is why my sauce looks more brown in the photo with the meat added, above.
  5. Set aside olives, marjoram leaves, and butter until pork is cooked.
  6. Set pork butt on top of sauce and vegetables. Lightly salt and pepper.
  7. Cover slow cooker. If your slow cooker has a timer, set it for 6 hours and cook on high.
  8. Carefully remove meat to a platter. The pork will be falling apart and should be lifted with large slotted spoons or spatulas so that all the vegetables remain in the sauce. Shred the meat with two forks.
  9. Making the sauce: The original recipe calls for blending the vegetables and sauce with an immersion blender, and this would be the easiest method. I don’t have one, plus I worried about have too much liquid, so I removed the vegetables with a long-handled skimmer to a blender and processed to purée. Pour the purée and as much remaining liquid as needed to make a sauce that is thick enough to coat the pasta into a medium saucepan. I ended up using all the remaining liquid, to my surprise. I was afraid I would have to thicken the sauce, but it was not necessary.
  10. Add butter and marjoram to sauce and heat through. As I noted above, I added all the marjoram to the vegetables in the blender without reserving any for appearance. It didn’t hurt, except aesthetically.
  11. Return sauce and shredded meat to cooker to keep warm while cooking pasta according to package directions.
  12. Add pasta to meat sauce and toss. Conversely, you could plate pasta and add sauce to each plate.

This is a very flavorful dish and a nice alternative use of shredded pork suitable for the fancy dinners described in the original recipe. I have no idea how the taste compares to the original and probably won’t be flying to Australia any time soon to find out, but we liked it very much.

I also missed that the original recipe serves grated Parmesan at the table, but we are eating it again tonight and I will definitely be adding that.

 

Decadent Pork Ragu

Ran across this at the terrific Travelling Pantry. It offers something new to do with that pork shoulder besides the typical pulled pork sandwich. I’ll be making it soon.

The Travelling Pantry

I’ve made this ragu so many times since I first tried it, about 2 years ago. Its simplicity always deems it a pleasure to make and it’s perfect for a dinner party, as it can feed 6-8. If you have fiddly starters or desserts, this can just be left either in the oven or on the stove until the meat is ready to be lifted out, shredded and returned to the sauce – pretty dandy.

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My boyfriend’s brothers favourite dish, and served up at his birthday meal – worthy of the party hats and celebrations surrounding it (I can say this myself as it’s not my creation), but from The National Gallery of Australia’s Sculpture Garden Restaurant in Canberra.

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Not the cheapest thing to make, but I think worthy of every penny – especially when it’s served up for a dinner party or special celebration.

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Ingredients Serves 6-8

  • 1 ½…

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