I am currently working my way through the Hunger Games trilogy and dear lord, they are exciting books! When I went to see the film, all I knew was that it was described as “the new Twilight”, and that there was some degree of archery and forests involved – I was expecting some kind of forbidden romance between a hunter and a centaur. So when I saw how the plot was really unfolding, I was absolutely gripped. And the books are just as exciting and full of suspense and danger. I’m positively racing my way through them – they’re not classic literature, but they’re still well-written and a thoroughly enjoyable read, a cut above the cringe-worthy dialogue and characters I’d like to slap in Twilight.
Besides depicting the titular “hunger”, we are also treated to some lengthy descriptions of food, and it does play its part in the series, of course – in the fancy meals in the Capitol, the all-important bread deliveries, and so on. And most importantly, Katniss’ handful of poisonous berries, viewed as an act of rebellion against the tyrannical President Snow and his oppressive regime. In a similar way, my handful of (non-poisonous) mushrooms in this lasagne could be interpreted as an act of rebellion against my own dictator, my mushroom-fearing boyfriend. I let him fend for himself in the wilderness (of western cafes and local dim sum restaurants) for a few days while I feasted on this sumptuous mushroom lasagne. But fear not, there is no rebellion, it really was an act of love. For mushrooms.
This is a lovely recipe my mum gave me. Somehow, mine turned out quite differently to hers, though the only obvious differences are that she always omits the soy sauce (don’t follow her example!) and I used a Gordon Ramsay recipe for the cheese sauce. Enjoy it, whether it is or isn’t an act or rebellion!
150ml boiling water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp chopped thyme
750g mixed mushrooms, sliced or quartered
150ml dry white wine
1 can chopped tomatoes
50g sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
12 sheets lasagne, precooked if necessary
for the cheese sauce:25g butter, 25g flour, 300ml milk, pinch nutmeg,60g grated cheddar
1. Put the porcini in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain and chop the porcini, reserving the liquid for later.
2. Preheat the oven to 190C. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the shallots, garlic and thyme for 5 minutes.
3. Add the chopped porcini and fresh mushrooms and fry for 5 more minutes.
4. Pour in the wine and boil for five minutes.
5. Stir in the tinned and sun-dried tomatoes, reserved porcini liquid and soy sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Season well.
6. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Add one third of the milk, whisking to prevent lumps forming, repeat with the rest of the milk. Season, add nutmeg. Cook for another minute, then add the cheddar. Stir and remove from the heat.
6. To assemble the lasagne, pour one third of the mushroom mix into a 20x25cm ovenproof dish. Top with 4 sheets of lasagne, then one third of the cheese sauce and one third of the mozzarella.
7. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with a layer of cheese sauce and mozzarella.
8. Bake for 45 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.