White Lasagna with Leeks and Mushrooms

By • January 8, 2013 • 9 Comments



Author Notes: I love, love, love leeks! In fact, I like to keep packets of chopped leeks sauteed in butter in my freezer for times when a dish needs a leek-lift. For this vegetarian lasagna, I took inspiration from three stellar cooks: Australia's Stephanie Alexander, whose comprehensive volume "The Cook's Companion" has a wonderful recipe for leek and cream stew; Ina Garten, whose mushroom lasagna put that idea in my head; and Sarah Leah Chase whose "Cold Weather Cooking" has a lasagna that calls for a lovely bechamel made with chicken broth that I adapted to be meat-free. To put the focus on the mushrooms and leeks, I wanted this to be a white lasagna -- no tomato sauce to muddy those delicate flavors. It's always a hit, even with meat-eaters, and I always get requests for my recipe.cookbookchick

Makes one large pan

  • 1 bunch leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (for the leek stew)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • salt
  • white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 pound mushrooms, mixed varieties such as portobella, shiitake, and whatever else you can find at the market
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided, for the mushrooms and the béchamel), plus more, as needed
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
  • 2 boxes no-boil lasagna noodles (or use regular lasagna noodles, pre-cooked in a pot of boiling salted water)
  1. For the leek and cream stew: Wash the leeks carefully in cool water to remove any grit, then chop them finely. Saute the leeks and chopped garlic in butter over low heat for about 10 minutes until the leeks are softened and tender. Add the cup of cream and simmer until cream has bubbled up and started to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  2. For the mushrooms: Rinse mushrooms. If using portobellas, separate the stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan. When the butter starts to sizzle, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more butter. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside. (Cooking half the mushrooms at a time keeps them from stewing instead of sautéing.)
  3. For the bechamel: Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Gradually whisk in the light cream; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, gradually stir 1/2 cup of the sauce into the beaten eggs so as to warm the eggs slowly and prevent them from scrambling, then stir the egg mixture into the remaining sauce. Cook a couple of minutes longer, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.
  4. Building the lasagna: Put a little bechamel in the bottom of a large baking or lasagna pan, then layer with noodles, leek stew, mushrooms, mozarella, bechamel sauce, and start again with more noodles. Continue until you've used up ingredients, top with noodles, bechamel and a little grated Parmesan. (Or layer in whatever order strikes your fancy, I don't think it matters much!)
  5. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour, until hot, bubbly and lightly browned. You can also refrigerate the lasagna a few hours ahead until you are ready to bake it.
  6. ***Note: You could skip making the leek stew, and simply saute the leeks and garlic in the butter you are going to use to make the bechamel. You can also use black pepper instead of white in the bechamel, if you don't mind the specks showing.
Jump to Comments (9)

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Stringio

about 1 month ago Jens Peter Kold

Just to let you know. Leeks can be frozen raw.
Just rinse/clean them. Slice/dice them in desired size. Into bag freeze. Leek cheap year round.
Onion is the wife, leeks is the mistress

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about 1 month ago cookbookchick

"Onion is the wife, leeks is the mistress." I love that! Thanks, Jens, for a great line and for a useful tip about freezing leeks!

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7 months ago Shawn Schreiner

Just tried it. Wonderful. I added spinach. Thanks!

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7 months ago cookbookchick

Thanks for letting me know, Shawn, I'm so glad that you like it! The spinach sounds like a good addition, I'll have to try it myself sometime.

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over 1 year ago Joan Bauer

Cookbookchick; love the handle! LOL Thanks for the note. Much better now. I might make this for my upcoming birthday!
This already feels like a great foodie community! Internet was down for 2+ days......I will let you know when I make it! Joan

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over 1 year ago Joan Bauer

this sounds sinfully delicious!!!![and fattening...]. i truly love vegy lasagna and never found the " perfect" recipe. I think this is IT!!!! Thanks for sharing! Just found this site today while dealing with a flu bug...Gingercook

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over 1 year ago cookbookchick

Joan, I am so pleased that my recipe led you to discover Food52! I've been a member for quite a while, but I'm embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I've posted a recipe. There are so many wonderful, generous cooks on this site -- welcome to the community! And feel better soon! Please let me know how you like the lasagna, if you decide to try it.

Cakes

over 1 year ago Bevi

This sounds not only delicious, but an elegant treatment of lasagna.

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over 1 year ago cookbookchick

Thanks, Bevi! I hope you'll try it sometime!