Seafood Lasagna for Dinner

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We are busy (okay, at the moment my husband is busy) cleaning house.  We are having a couple from my husband’s church over for dinner and they are bringing their three children.  The wife is bringing dessert, so I am concerning myself with main course and salad.  I found this great recipe for Lasagna di Pesce (Seafood Lasagna) on the Food Network website, credited to Eating Well magazine.  I had a lot of salmon and tilapia in the freezer, as well as some shrimp, so I decided to go for it.

As usual, nothing is as simple as it seems, and I almost never follow the recipe as it is written.  My husband is gluten intolerant, so I decided to make a separate smaller lasagna with rice noodles for him.  Now, this is an interesting recipe, because there is not a ricotta cheese layer, but there is a sauce used that begins with a roux.  That means flour.  Instead, I used masa harina and olive oil to start the dish, then added corn starch in a cup of water to make sure the sauce was thick.  That way, I didn’t have to make two batches of seafood filling.  Below is the recipe, with my notes.

Lasagna di Pesce

  • 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups bottled clam juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound fresh medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 1 pound fresh sole fillet, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I substituted tilapia)
  • 8 ounces fresh salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (I used 2 Vidalia onions, chopped coarsely)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (I substituted masa harina)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/3 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

1.  Place lasagna noodles in a large bowl of warm water and let soak, stirring occasionally, until pliable, at least 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, combine clam juice, wine and water in a large deep skillet. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp. Poach until pink, about 40 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander over a bowl.

3.  Add sole and salmon to poaching liquid. Poach until just opaque, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in colander with shrimp. Let drain. Strain poaching liquid through a fine sieve and set aside. Wipe pan dry.

4.  Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, anchovies and garlic and cook, mashing anchovies into a paste, for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 2 minutes. Add basil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to colander with the seafood. Add any accumulated juices to the reserved poaching liquid. Measure out 3 1/2 cups hot liquid, adding water if necessary.

5.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Add the reserved poaching liquid and bring to a simmer, whisking, until smooth and thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 5 to 6 minutes. Add lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Reserve 1 1/2 cups sauce; gently mix seafood mixture into remaining sauce.

6.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-1/2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

7.  Spoon 1/2 cup reserved sauce into the prepared dish. Drain the noodles and blot dry. Alternate 4 layers of noodles and 3 layers of the seafood mixture in dish, starting and ending with noodles. Spread remaining 1 cup sauce over the top, coating the noodles completely.

8.  Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan and bake until golden and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.

I sort of doubled the recipe, and made enough to fill one 9 x 13 lasagna pan and one 8 x 8 cake pan (that was for the smaller gluten free lasagna for my husband).  I went ahead and prepared steps 1 thru 5 the night before the dinner.  I wrapped my noodles in wax paper and put the seafood mixture in a big pot in the fridge.

The next morning, I became just a tad obsesses with looking for a lasagna pan.  I finally picked up a nice metal 9 x 13 inch pan with sides higher than 2 inches – I think it was made by CuisineArt.  My 4 layers of lasagna noodles and 3 layers of filling fit perfectly, with no bubbling over.

The final product:  I added 2 cans of artichoke hearts, quartered, to the mix.  I also omitted the crumbs and instead put Italian shredded cheese mix and grated Parmesan to the top.  Because I had refrigerated the filling and noodles, I needed to cook the lasagnas longer.

The final verdict:  A little bland, a little watery.  Next time, I may substitute an Alfredo sauce, Vodka sauce, or maybe even some Amy’s Tomato Bisque and more salt.  I also might like more layers of cheese.

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