Seafood Lasagna

Lasagna is all about layering, and nothing in that concept says that red sauce, meat, or even cheese needs to be between the pasta. Emboldened by that thought, I make this lasagna out of the seafood in season. It is necessarily rich. It’s also better made with fewer layers than a standard lasagna. It works best as a preliminary course–say, before the osso buco.

  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, cut up
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs. fillets of fresh, flaky fish (recommended: redfish, flounder, sole, sheepshead)
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, 21-25 count per pound
  • 1 lb. crabmeat
  • 1 quart fresh oysters
  • 10 oz. fresh scallops
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped French shallots
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs. dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 lb. lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (or not, if the no-cook kind)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large skillet, bring a quart of water and the white wine to a low simmer. Add the parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, carrot, onion, and salt. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes.

2. Poach the fish in the seasoned liquid for six to eight minutes, depending on thickness. It should be almost but not quite flaking apart. Remove and drain the fish. Add the shrimp and poach them until they’re completely pink. Remove and drain. Finally, add the oysters and the scallops. Cook until the edges of the oysters are curly. Remove and drain. Let the scallops cook about another one or two minutes, depending on size. Remove and drain. Strain the poaching liquid and set aside.

3. Break the fish into small pieces. Quarter the scallops and shrimp. Leave the oysters whole.

4. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the shallots until lightly browned. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then whisk in the flour.

5. Add the seafood-poaching water and bring to a low boil. Reduce by about half–20 or 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, reduce the cream by about half. Add it to the reduced fish stock. Add dill, Worcestershire, Tabasco, dill, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible and let it simmer until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add all the seafood to the pan, stir lightly, and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

7. Coat the bottom of a large glass baking dish about two inches deep with a little olive oil. Cover the bottom with pasta. Using a slotted spoon, spoon about a quarter of the sauce-soaked seafood onto the pasta. Sprinkle about a fifth of the Parmesan cheese over it. Cover with second layer of pasta at right angles to the first layer. Repeat this process to use all the seafood between five layers of pasta, with the last of the cheese and about 1/4 cup of the remaining sauce over the top.

8. Put the lasagna pan inside a bigger pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the lasagna pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until the top browns a bit.

9. Take the lasagna out and allow to cool on the top of the stove for 15-30 minutes.

10. While waiting for the lasagna to cool, heat the remaining sauce over low heat. Make two slices the long way and three to five slices across the lasagna. Serve, with some of the sauce over the top.

Serves eight to twelve.

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