On Your Table: Mushroom Lasagna for Italian Heritage Month

Combine the best of local cuisine with a long-time favorite for a delightful meal

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times


For Italian heritage month, a dish that combines the best of local traditions and Italian cooking is a loaf-pan based mushroom lasagna.

Italian Heritage month, which is celebrated in conjunction with Columbus Day in October of each year, celebrates the many achievements and successes of Americans of Italian decent. It’s a time when Italian-Americans reflect on their heritage and what it means to be Italian-Americans. During this month, families share their heritage, culture, traditions and particularly their food.

Chester County boasts many families of Italian decent, with strong ties to family, fraternal associations and to religious affiliations and of course you can’t neglect the food, so we went out searching for food stories.

I found some great ones from Jack Mavraj and Michele Recchia from La Verona Restaurant in Kennett Square. Jack is from Verona Italy, hence the name of the restaurant and Michele is from Bari in the south of Italy. I asked them why there are so many Italian-Americans in the area. They explained that when jobs were not easy to come, by the mushroom business drew many families to the area, being a business that could be family-owned and near major markets in Philadelphia. While they themselves are not in the mushroom business, they rely on local producers to supply them with mushrooms grown in the large concrete barns that dot the countryside around Kennett Square and Avondale.

We then talked about Italian fall dishes that can be made with local ingredients, particularly mushrooms. Jack said the restaurant is currently offering spinach and mushroom ravioli and a mushroom gratin made with pancetta, garlic, provolone and balsamic vinegar. The ravioli are served with sun-dried tomato pesto. He also was excited to share about the restaurant’s homemade mushroom meatballs. Not being familiar with the use of mushrooms in meatballs, I asked how these are made and he explained that the diced mushrooms in combination with the ground meat make for a very tender mixture and soften the overall bite of the meat.

So I got to enjoy the best of Italian Heritage Month, mushrooms too, and hope you do as well.


Terrine of Mushroom Lasagna with Tomatoes

This is an interesting twist on traditional lasagna, being made in a loaf pan, so simple to fix and quick to bake.


1 pound of pasta sheets for the lasagna

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 pounds assorted mushrooms including shiitake and button mushrooms

3 ounces of bacon or pancetta, diced and sautéed

3 ounces mortadella

1 4-oz container of mascarpone cheese

2 cloves garlic diced

1 tbs sugar

2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper plus chili pepper if desired



Slice the meats and arrange on a baking tray over parchment paper. Season with garlic, sugar, herbs and salt and cook in preheated oven at 325-350 degrees for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and let them brown in a pan with a little olive oil for 20 minutes. Season with salt. Heat a pot of salted water and then blanch the pasta sheets for a few minutes and let them dry out on towels or parchment paper for another few minutes. Or if desired use pre-cooked lasagna sheets so that no cooking is needed. Assemble the lasagna in a greased loaf pan, starting with the mushrooms, then alternating layers of the pasta, mascarpone, tomatoes, meats and cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and then serve.

Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats

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