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Valentine Warner - Wild mushroom lasagne

Serves 4-6

Preparation time over 2 hours

Cooking time 30 mins to 1 hour


For the pasta

300g/10½oz Italian '00' plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g/7oz semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
flaked sea salt
4 medium free-range eggs
2-4 medium free-range egg yolks
For the filling
5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1kg/2lb 4oz mixed wild mushrooms, brushed and cleaned, larger varieties roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
1kg/2lb 4oz spinach
freshly grated nutmeg
50g/2oz parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra for topping
300g-350g/10½oz-12oz sheep's curd or soft fresh goats' cheese
freshly ground black pepper
50ml/2fl oz single cream

1. Place the plain flour and semolina flour and a good pinch of salt into a food processor and blend to combine.
2. With the motor running, crack in the whole eggs, then the yolks, one by one. As soon as the crumbs start to come together you have added enough egg yolks.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead to a crudely assembled mound. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes, using the ball of your thumbs and palm of your hands to work it.
4. Mould the dough into a block, then wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours.
5. For the filling, heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat and when very hot add the mushrooms and the salt. Fry the mushrooms, stirring regularly, until golden-brown all over. Make sure any liquids that are released evaporate with the heat.
6. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for one minute. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside.
7. Wipe the mushroom pan clean and add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Place over a high heat, then add the spinach. Fry, stirring well, until the spinach has wilted down.
8. Grate over a little nutmeg and add a pinch of salt and stir well. Transfer the spinach to a colander and, using the back of a spoon, press out any excess water.
9. To roll out the pasta, fix the pasta machine firmly to the edge of the table. Sprinkle a clean work surface with semolina flour. Cut a playing card-sized slab of the dough and feed it through the pasta machine on its thickest setting. Fold the pasta end to end and, winding the folded end first, feed it through the machine again.
10. Repeat this process changing the pasta machine setting down by one each time, feeding through twice each time, until you have fed the pasta through the machine's thinnest setting.
11. Lay the pasta sheet out and cut it into sheets approximately 12cm/5in long. Set them side by side (not on top of each other).
12. Cut and roll some more dough and repeat the process, until all of the pasta dough has been turned into lasagne sheets.
13. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
14. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. (The pan must be large to ensure the pieces of pasta are not crammed together in the water.)
15. Place the lasagne sheets into the boiling water and cook them for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the pasta, then refresh under running cold water. Drain again.
16. Place the lasagne sheets into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Gently turn the lasagne to coat in the oil.
17. Grease a deep baking dish with some olive oil. Sprinkle over a layer of freshly grated parmesan (reserving some for later).
18. Place a few sheets of the pasta over the bottom, all slightly overlapping.
19. Spread some of the mushroom mixture over the lasagne, then sprinkle over some of the sheep's curd or goats' cheese, broken into lumps.
20. Add a layer of the cooked spinach, then drizzle over a little olive oil and grind over some black pepper. Repeat these layers until all of the lasagne sheets and fillings are used up - which should be three thick sections of these layers. (NB: The last layer should be pasta.)
21. Press down the top with a spatula to compress the layers slightly.
22. Pour the cream over the top of the lasagne and drizzle with a little olive oil.
23. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan, then bake in the oven for around 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through and the top is golden-brown and bubbling.