Cooking with Nathan : Lasagne with Porcini and Prawns

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I haven’t been to the Rialto Market for months, and it’s a delight to be back. The sun is shining on the Grand Canal, the market is busy but not ridiculously so, and it’s a pleasure just to stroll around.

I go to what was once my regular fish stall (since we moved to Dorsoduro I buy my fish on Giudecca) and ask for 500g of Sicilian gamberi rossi. This is more than I need, but I feel a bit guilty about not having been here in so long. I could, I suppose, make two meals out of these, but I suspect I won’t.

I move on to the vegetable stalls, one of which is now a veritable treasure chest of mushrooms. They’re all there. Pioppini, chiodini, ones I don’t even know the name of and, of course, porcini. A sign that autumn has arrived. The guy tries to sell me a kilo (at a very reasonable price) but there’s no way I’ll be able to use them all in time. We both settle for a half kilo. I really will get two meals out of them.

Tonight I’m going to cook lasagne with porcini, mozzarella and prawns. Now, I’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog but this time, I think, it’s worth recording the whole recipe.

Ingredients (for two)

500g (unshelled) of red Sicilian prawns – well, no, you don’t need to be that precious about it and this is far too much anyway. Shall we say perhaps 300g of ‘some prawns’?

250g of porcini. This is pretty much exactly right.

One medium sized ball of mozzarella.

Lasagne sheets (as many as necessary)


Some grated Parmesan

Salt/Pepper

And that’s it!

Method

  1. Hurray! There’s a new Hawkwind album in the world, so I cooked this to Somnia.

2) Gently clean your porcini (don’t soak them), slice them into medium-sized chunks and let them sizzle in some butter. We want them to be nicely browned here.

3) While your mushrooms are frying, shell and clean your prawns. If they’re small – as mine were – this will take some time. No matter. Make a spritz, reflect on what a cracking album Somnia is, and think ahead to how good this lasagne is going to be. Oh, and let the oven heat up to 200 degrees.

4) When the prawns are – finally – shelled – toss them into the pan and let them cook for a minute or two. That’s all they’ll need. Season with salt and pepper.

5) Tear a mozzarella ball into chunks and prepare a baking dish with a little oil.

6) Build layers with the pasta sheets, the mozzarella, and the prawn/mushroom mix.

7) Scatter the parmesan on the top – a good crispy top layer will be nice – and put it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp. You might want to let it rest for a minute or two until it stops bubbling furiously.

This, frankly, is a bit of a Taste Explosion and a nicely chilled cheap red goes very well with it.

If you can’t get hold of porcini, no matter. Regular mushrooms will do almost as well – you won’t get the massive umami kick but, on the other hand, you might get a little bit more of the flavour of the prawns. Whatever you decide, Buon appetito!

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