The taste of summer basil mixed with the wild essence of mushrooms and the exotic crunch of toasted hazelnuts brings this creamy lasagna creation into another dimension. Heavenly.
Melt butter over low heat. Add the flour and blend, continuing to cook over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onions and bay leaf, and cook until thickened and smooth, about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Strain, add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with a grating of nutmeg. Set aside.
In a 12” sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir to coat with the butter. Sauté for about 7 minutes, until the mushrooms give up their liquid. Increase the heat to high and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates. Set aside.
Fill a large pot with at least 4 quarts of cold water and bring to a boil. Do not salt. Meanwhile, in a bowl blend the cup of pesto with the ricotta and a small amount of béchamel to make a spreadable paste. When the water boils, place the pasta in the pot and return to a boil. If you’re using fresh pasta, scoop out the sheets when dough is translucent. (Cooking time will vary.) If using dried pasta, follow the manufacturer’s cooking timetable. Cool pasta in a shallow pan of cold water for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 13” x 9” x 2” pan and spread a thin layer of béchamel on the bottom. Place one layer of pasta on top of this and spread all the pesto/ricotta mixture 1/4” thick on this layer of noodles. Place another layer of pasta and spread the sautéed mushrooms evenly on top. Lightly cover the mushrooms with half the béchamel sauce, and follow with a covering of half of the romano/parmesan mixture. Layer with a third covering of pasta. Spoon on the remainder of the béchamel, and top with the rest of the grated cheese mixture. Sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.
Place in the 350-degree oven and bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the hazelnuts are golden brown and toasted on top. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
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