Layered Pasta with Porcini and Ham

Every time I visit Rome I go to the Campo dei Fiori market and buy dried porcini mushrooms to take home.  They are Italy’s most valued wild mushrooms that taste meaty and earthy,  The ones I buy are from Tuscany, and are harvested just months before they go to market.  This layered pasta dish is so decadent and rich, especially with the porcini.  If you can’t get them you can certainly use crimini or a variety of other mushrooms instead.  You can also make your own pasta, which will taste the best,  or purchase “no boil” lasagne pasta.

Ingredients: 
fresh pasta made from 3 1/2 cups flour and 4 eggs
     or 1 pound of “no boil” lasagne pasta
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
6 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
6 cups half and half
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. olive oil
8 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons of butter|
salt and pepper to taste
truffle oil (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 X 13” baking pan.  Roll the pasta dough (if using) into 3” strips that are 13” long. You’ll need nine sheets. Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. While they’re soaking make the Béchamel by heating the butter in a saucepan until melted. Add the flour and whisk until completely mixed.  

Slowly add the half and half, whisking constantly until no lumps are present. Stir occasionally until it comes to a simmer and thickens. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, several grinds of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. 

Heat a skillet and add olive oil. Sauté the drained mushrooms and garlic for 5 minutes, then add to the Béchamel, along with the prosciutto and parsley. Taste to see if more salt is needed in the sauce. 

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with three pasta sheets. Pour in a layer of one third of the porcini Béchamel and spread over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan and dot with 1 tablespoon of butter. Repeat layers two more times for a total of three layers. Bake for 30 minutes.  Drizzle with truffle oil before serving.

MainsEvan Wei-Haas