Lasagna with Arugula Pesto and Mushrooms.

This lasagna does away with the red sauce and relies instead on a pesto made from fresh arugula and basil to make the dish pop. A combination of dried and fresh mushrooms lends texture and flavor, and pecorino, a cheese derived from goat’s milk, offers a tangy zip.

For the pesto:

2 1/2 cups packed basil leaves, washed and dried
1 1/2 cups packed baby arugula leaves, washed and dried
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in the oven or a frying pan
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine basil, arugula, garlic, pine nuts, and 2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the Pecorino and lemon juice, along with salt and pepper to taste, and blend until combined.
Set aside.

For the lasagna:

 
1 oz dried mushrooms {porcini, cremini, chanterelle}
2 lbs. fresh mushrooms, wiped clean
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles {flat, with no ruffled edges}
2 cups grated mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Chop the mushrooms coarsely and set aside, straing and reserving the liquid. Slice the fresh mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat and add the mushrooms, along with a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to release their liquid. Add the garlic and reconstituted mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the mushroom liquid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8-x10-x3-inch baking pan. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and add the flour, whisking to combine. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, but do not allow the mixture to brown. Gradually whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add nutmeg and salt to taste.
Spread 1/4-cup of pesto over the bottom of the pan and arrange 3 lasagna sheets on top {do not overlap}. Spread about one-fourth of the white sauce over the pasta, followed by one-fourth of the remaining pesto, one-fourth of the mozzarella, and about one-third of the mushrooms. Repeat this process twice. Add a fourth layer of pasta, and spread the remaining white sauce over that, followed by the rest of the pesto and mozzarella. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about an hour, until the pasta is tender. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until brown and bubbly. {You can use the broiler to help this process along.} Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 8 to 10.

For leftovers: Lasagna tastes delicious cold, but if you want it hot, cover and reheat at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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