Everybody loves lasagna. This fisherman’s special is always a big hit at my table, which is why I often make a double batch in one shot, for future use as it freezes very well and makes a satisfying, ready-to-bake supper for busy days when time is running short.
I like to use fresh lasagna sheets (not dried pasta) because they are more tender and not quite as heavy as dried noodles, so the delicate fish stands up better under the layers. Fresh sheets are also more versatile to use, as they can be cut with scissors to fit perfectly into any size of baking dish, making it easy to assemble various-sized lasagnas – such as one large casserole for a big family meal, two smaller casseroles (one for eating fresh and the other for freezing,) or a bunch of individual-sized “gratin” dishes (large, medium, small) to suit any sized appetite to a tee!
Halibut, one of our province’s most coveted catches, is my favourite fish for lasagna because the firm, lean flesh lends itself well to baking, and its mild flavour does not overpower the lightly-seasoned, creamy sauce as would be the case with a fattier, stronger-tasting fish. However, if halibut isn’t on the menu when craving strikes, you can substitute other white or light-fleshed fish with good results.
This is a tasty recipe for using up lingering tidbits of cheese that have accumulated in the fridge. When it comes to cheese in the lasagna pan, my motto is: anything goes – mozzarella, cheddar, marble or a mix of cheeses! And, in order to cash-in on eating as locally as possible, I strive to use domestic cheese and wine to compliment my catch.
To cut perfect squares of lasagna, allow the baked casserole to stand for about 15 minutes after removing it from the oven in order for it to set, which will ease slicing. If you’re serving individual dishes, there’s no need to worry about the layers “slipping apart” or “oozing” sauce all over the plate; something to consider, especially if you like it extra saucy! Serve with a tossed green salad on the side and white wine for toasting this fisherman’s feast.
Makes one 13-by-9-inch pan (or can be fitted into smaller pans as desired.)
1 (360-gram package) fresh lasagna sheets (leftover sheets can be snipped into soup noodles, if desired, or frozen)
6 cups fresh spinach, steamed, drained and chopped (or 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained)
2 pounds halibut cut into bite-sized cubes
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella (or other cheese or mixed cheeses)
grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
dried chilli pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup butter
1 minced onion
6 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 hot chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon mixed dried Italian herbs
1 clove pressed garlic
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, sauté onion until soft. Add remaining butter, sprinkle in the flour and cook until absorbed. Whisk in the hot chicken stock, cook until smooth. Add seasonings, garlic and cream. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the wine and 1/4 cup of the parmesan, cook until thick. Stir in the spinach. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Cover bottom of baking dish with sauce. Top with lasagna sheets cut to fit. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles. Distribute 1/3 fish cubes evenly over the sauce so each forkful of lasagna will have a bite of fish. Scatter 1/3 cup ricotta over the fish and cover with 1 cup grated cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat twice, ending with a layer of lasagna sheets. Spoon leftover sauce over top and cover with remaining grated cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan and chilli flakes. Bake 350°F oven for 40 minutes or until top is golden and fish is tender.