About this recipe:Mushroom and ham is a classic combination in Italian cuisine. Try it in this lasagne, baked in a rich bechamel sauce. Use porcini mushrooms for a more intense and sophisticated flavour, or regular white mushrooms will work too.
For the bechamel
80g plain flour
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the lasagne
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g fresh mushrooms, sliced
120ml white wine
1 knob butter
100g ham, cubed
350g fresh or dried lasagne sheets (about 12 sheets)
100g mozzarella cheese, cubed
200g grated Parmesan cheese
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Melt butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Stir vigorously with a whisk so that no lumps are formed. Pour in the milk and cook over medium heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir occasionally with a whisk to avoid lumps. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
Prepare mushrooms and ham:
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the garlic until just golden (do not burn). Add mushrooms and stir to coat in oil. Turn up heat, pour in white wine and simmer until the alcohol has evaporated. Reduce to medium heat and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, remove garlic and keep warm.
Melt knob of butter in a small pan and add ham. Coat in butter and cook for 2 minutes.
Assemble and bake lasagne:
Bring to the boil a large pot with plenty of salted water; add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If using dried lasagne sheets, cook by following the cooking time on the packet. If using fresh ones, dip each sheet in salted boiling water for 1 minute. In both cases, drain the lasagne sheets and pass quickly under cold tap water to stop cooking. Lay them on a tea towel and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
Pour a ladleful of the bechamel sauce over the bottom of a 20x30cm baking dish. Lay 3 lasagne sheets side by side and cover with 1/4 of remaining bechamel; then add 1/3 of cubed ham, 1/3 of mushrooms and 1/3 of mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then cover with lasagne sheets. Continue layers, finishing with bechamel and a good handful of grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the pasta is fully cooked and the top is golden brown. Place under the grill for the last 5 minutes to get a nice golden top. Remove from oven, then let stand for 15 minutes covered with an aluminium foil before slicing and serving.
Lasagne is tastier if allowed to stand at least 15 minutes before serving, so the pasta has the time to "relax" and absorb the sauce. I suggest to prepare the lasagne well in advance (up to 2 days), then cover with aluminium foil and refrigerate. A quick heat up in the oven before serving and your lasagne will be perfect!