oyster mushrooms - centre stage


I love the idea of ready-steady-cook, but when I'm standing in the store wondering where to start, I'm not sure quite the same excitement pervades. Shortly afterwards, when a plan comes together, a sense of victory takes over and quashes any doubt.

Wiz generally loves to have meat of some description or another at supper, I am less fussed. But with oyster mushrooms by my side, I was almost sure I could dupe him into a delicious mushroom lasagne, bila nyama. Fortunately we had the ingredients for a white sauce, and some store bought lasagne sheets, but what else to put into this layered delight? I decided upon some tomatoes with garlic (not quite a ragu sauce, and as a result light enough to ensure the mushrooms still had centre stage), and half a cup of leftover pesto made a few days earlier (see that entry here). The mushrooms in this dish shone through with a really strong taste, nicely balanced by the rest of the ingredients but still tap dancing their way through the main event. The final touch that makes this is crumbling a weetabix over the top just before you cook it, to give some extra crunch! 

25 gms flour
25 gms butter
600 mls milk
1 punnet oyster mushrooms
3 tomatoes
1 clove garlic, mashed up
A decent spoonful of pesto
Any fresh (or dried) herbs you've got around - parsley, thyme, oregano etc. 
A box of pasta sheets - you probably won't need all of it!Parmesan, grana padano or cheddar cheese grated
Weetabix (one is usually enough)

Preheat the oven to 180 C, and butter your casserole dish.

Start by making your white sauce. Melt the butter and add flour, mix well and stir for 3 minutes or so to cook the flour. Either remove the saucepan from the heat or put the heat down very low and add the milk slowly, stirring all the time. Mix well and keep going until the sauce thickens. At this stage, I grind in some salt and pepper and sometimes also add cheese. Set aside. 

Trim any dirt off your oyster mushrooms and then tear them up. Gently fry in a dash of olive oil with some thyme, parsley or oregano (or all three)!

Chop your tomatoes up, and gently fry in a dash of olive oil with the garlic. In the meantime start preparing your lasagne sheets by boiling a large frying pan of water. Slip the lasagne sheets into the boiling water one by one. 

Now it's time for assembly. Starting with the tomatoes, layer up as follows: tomatoes - mushrooms - pasta sheets - white sauce - tomatoes - mushrooms - pasta sheets - pesto - white sauce - tomatoes... etc. Once you reach the end of your ingredients, finish up with a layer of white sauce, sprinkle over some grated cheese and crumble a weetabix over. Pop into the oven for 30 minutes or so, and serve with a green salad and lashings of ketchup if you have a husband like mine. The picture below doesn't look very pretty BUT it does taste delicious!