Basagna

Years ago, there was this sweet little boy at church (he’s a sweet young man now) who used to love lasagna. The church helps busy families on Wednesday nights by selling hot meals in the cafeteria before service starts and this young man loved him some lasagna — or “basagna” as he would call it. I always loved telling Jackson when it was “basagna” night when I helped serve, so now whenever I think of lasagna, I think of Jackson, and always pronounce it “basagna” in my head.

This past week, I made some of the best basagna I’ve ever made (and quite possibly eaten)! I recently ran across this great Mushroom and Burrata Lasagnette from Bon Appétit magazine’s October 2015 issue and not only was it captivating to look at, but it was a perfect recipe made for 2 (generous) servings. It didn’t contain any meat, but with all of the cheese and meaty mushrooms and hearty portions included, we didn’t really notice the lack.

If you know anything about me right now, you know I generally stick to a recipe so that I can get a “feel” for what the author was “going for.” I don’t feel this holds me back in any way. I feel like this gives me skills and flavors for future use adapting in my own cooking. However, there are always small concessions for moderation and ingredient sourcing. (After all, I loosened up the excess ricotta/cream/burrata mixture in #shelfcooking later in the week to finish out a couple half-empty packages of pasta and the rest of the kale.)

Maitake mushrooms were surprisingly hard to source locally. Criminis were easy. Those are simply baby bellas by another name. I found chanterelles dried. But maitakes… no where. Adding to this, those found on Amazon were more than I needed and a little cost prohibitive as such. In the absence of maitakes, since they weren’t specifically called for, I swapped in dried porcinis. I soaked the dried mushrooms in warm water for 30min prior to cooking and used them as fresh.

Instead of using the whole “large” shallot, I used the larger lobe and saved the smaller for later. Using the whole, I feel would have been overpowering in my opinion. If you’re unfamiliar with shallots, they’re in the allium family so they’re related to both garlic and onions. They provide a gentle cross-flavor of both garlic and onions. For this reason, out of an abundance of caution, I would not recommend using either when cooking with shallots, personally. You are of course welcome to disagree.

The recipe said to combine the ricotta and cream for the layers, but I also smushed in the burrata instead of reserving it for dotting with the mushrooms. I did this out of a desire to minimize steps and use of counter-space. Just a personal preference. I’m sure it would’ve been just as amazing as written.

My last two swaps were simple and negligible to the final product. I used oven-ready lasagna sheets instead of boiling my own and I used dried marjoram instead of fresh since I wasn’t able to source fresh at the time. Both didn’t disrupt the recipe in the least and I usually have success with both… (assuming I’m using quality ingredients. No Walmart seasonings here!) Next time, I think I would even skip the salad and chiffonade the kale into the lasagnette.

On a final note, I chose to use to make ours in mini cocottes similar to this one from Le Creuset (By the way, it’s pronounced “luh-CROO-zay”). It ensured that each got his/her own ample serving. And trust me when I tell you that you will NOT want to share. I don’t care if it isn’t “light,” low-fat, or healthy. No one is sharing mine. In fact when I told the Mr what I made he was just so-so, but he was blown away at first bite. He kept exclaiming how “AWESOME” the dish was.

Wrapping your lips around each bite of the bubbling, cheesy, funky umami layers was something akin to getting a great dinner at an upscale, but homey restaurant. I’m still working on my skills — “never stop learning” is one of my mottos — but this dish was so perfect, I had that floating-on-cloud-nine-I-have-arrived feeling.

What are some of your personal kitchen successes?

Reading: The Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard

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