This recipe is a celebration of the bounty of spring. I found my first St. George’s mushrooms of the season this week (see my post about this exciting forage here) and wanted a truly special dish to enjoy them to their fullest.
And what better to serve them with that the namesake of this blog – ramsons. Or wild garlic. Or wild leeks. Or ramps. Or ramslök. Whatever name takes your fancy! Despite being named after this fabulous green, this blog has been mysteriously lacking in ramsons recipes thus far. Not anymore!
Having cooked a whole lot of garlic mushrooms in my time, I have concluded that for the most delicious results, these two fantastically complementary ingredients actually need to be cooked separately. The flavour of the mushrooms is really enhanced with browning and a fairly high heat is needed to drive off the water that they release. The garlic, however, is at its best when cooked long and slow, especially when you use the large quantities of garlic that I am so very drawn to! So this recipe calls for them to be prepared individually, then combined.
For a healthy, weekday dish I would not use any fat at all when preparing my mushrooms – I have found a dry sauté to be very successful – but for this special dish, butter is required. And lots of it. St. George’s mushrooms have a particular affinity with butter, the combination transforming both into a sum far greater than its parts.
Slowly caramelised garlic and a little drizzle of cream are just the icing on the cake.
This dish was also a great opportunity to use my new favourite ingredient – truffle salt. I have used truffle oil in the past, with mixed results, but had been keen to try out this option having heard great things about it online. ‘The Internet’ was not wrong. The wave of powerful, truffle-y smell that hit my nose on opening this little jar was profound. So pungent. So truffle-y. So so good on eggs. On pasta. On mushrooms. On everything… But particularly on this lasagne.
Wanting a delicate, fairly neutral vehicle for the unique flavours of the wild mushrooms and ramsons, I chose sheets of handmade, fresh egg pasta. If that sounds like far too much work, a couple of thin slices of lightly toasted sourdough would also be delightful.
St. George’s mushrooms, sautéed with butter, caramelised wet garlic and cream. Wild garlic, gently wilted with a little butter and seasoning. Layers of fresh, handmade pasta – toothsome and tender, but still with a little bite.
A luxurious, elegant marriage of all that is wonderful about spring and wonderful about the wild bounty of nature.
- 200g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- 500g St. George's mushrooms (or any other mushroom)
- 1 head wet garlic, finely chopped, skin included (or 8 cloves regular garlic, peeled)
- 50g unsalted butter
- 200ml drinkable white wine
- 200ml double cream
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 150g wild garlic leaves (or fresh spinach at a push)
- 20g unsalted butter
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Either by hand or using a machine, blend the eggs and flour thoroughly. Knead for about 10 minutes. If using a machine, the mixture will most likely look like breadcrumbs at this point. It may look a little dry, but if you can successfully press the crumbs together with your fingers it is sufficiently moist. When you have finished mixing/kneading, press the mixture together if necessary, wrap in clingfilm and rest on the work surface for 30 minutes.
- When the pasta is ready to roll, remove the plastic and cut into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a rough rectangle and feed through a pasta machine about 10 times on thickness setting 1, folding the pasta in two each time you run it through - this effectively re-kneads the pasta and greatly improves the texture.
- Continue running the pasta through the machine, raising the thickness setting a stage at a time until you reach the desired thickness. I stopped when I reached setting 6, which for pasta of this dryish texture was about 1mm thick (see picture in the post). I rolled the pasta for this dish fairly thick so it would survive being removed from the water with tongs (see assembly instructions below) and would hold its shape somewhat when layered with the vegetables.
- Lay the sheets on a work surface and cut them into neat squares with a sharp knife. I did not need any flour or semolina to roll out or cut my pasta, but if you are at all worried about your pasta sticking, lightly flour it and do not lay sheets on top of each other. Set aside.
- While the pasta dough is resting, slice the mushrooms in halves or quarters, depending on size. You may need to cook the mushrooms in batches as they should be cooked in a single layer. If this is the case, divide the butter accordingly. Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and cook the mushrooms on all sides until lightly browned. If the pan starts to become swamped with water, turn up the heat. Set aside.
- Turn the heat down to low, add the chopped garlic and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add the white wine, deglaze and turn the heat up to medium. Cook for a further 5 minutes, scraping up any flavourful crust, until the wine has mostly evaporated.
- Return the mushrooms to the pan, stir to coat in the garlic and turn off the heat. You will finish the mushrooms when you are ready to assemble the lasagne.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the wild garlic leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until just wilted. Turn off the heat - you will finish the wild garlic when you are ready to assemble the lasagne.
- Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta sheets. Turn the heat under both the mushrooms and the wild garlic onto low to rewarm them. If using warmed plates, put them in a low oven now.
- When the water is boiling and the vegetables are almost completely reheated, add the pasta to the pan. Cook for a few minutes - the actual time will depend on the thickness of your pasta. Mine, which was 1mm thick, took about 5 minutes. I decided when it was done by fishing out a piece and cutting off a little to test. While the pasta is cooking, add the cream to the mushrooms, turn the heat up and reduce the sauce. Season both the mushrooms and the wild garlic to taste.
- When the pasta is ready, remove the plates from the oven. Using tongs, take 4 sheets of pasta out of the water and lay one on each plate. Spoon some of the mushrooms over. Repeat, layering pasta, wild garlic, pasta and mushrooms, saving some of the vegetables to garnish the top of the lasagne. Spoon over any leftover sauce. Serve immediately.
- This recipe calls for several specialist ingredients and these are what makes it special, however they can all be happily substituted and the dish will still be impressive and delicious. Suggestions are included in the ingredients list.