Wish Upon A Dish: Free-Form Crab Lasagna

August 21, 2011

Free-Form Crab Lasagna

This recipe wraps up my week at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. I will be visiting that site many more times.

I just love the sophisticated but easy recipes and most are actually healthy also.

I had a pound of crab in my freezer (I buy the pasteurized cans when they are on sale). Homemade whole wheat pasta is a Diabetics dream pasta and so easy to make.
Nowadays you can buy pre-made sheets or buy the no boil kind and soak them in hot water.

I had seen Tyler Florence make a similar version of this dish and it looked so easy to make. I imagine you could use a ramekin or a mini tart pan if you felt better containing the lasagna in something with edges. If you are careful to not over fill your layers and spread the filling evenly, you should be able to free form it. Just remember, this is more like a warmed pasta salad not a deep dish baked lasagna.

When the ricotta has to be really good I make my own.
When I make my ricotta I save the whey and am using that along with an egg to make my whole wheat pasta. The whey not only makes it that much more nutritious, it will make a silky smooth pasta dough.

Whole Wheat Pasta
makes 1 pound

* 2 cups white whole wheat flour
* 1 cup cake flour
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 3/4 cup whey or water

Process everything in a processor until it comes together in a ball. Let it rotate a few seconds to knead. Remove, wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out using a Kitchen Aide roller or a hand crank roller to a thin thickness (you can see your fingers through it).

Place on a floured kitchen towel while you finish the dough.

I used a 4" square cutter to cut out my pieces, but a knife will do. I am making 4 layers each, so I cut 12 squares.

The rest of the dough I will cut into fettucine strands and freeze in "pasta nests".

I am using Bobby Flay's Tapas Bakeware because the sheets fit perfectly in there and I want them brown and bubbly on top and baking them longer to get that browning might mean leakage if they are free form.

I guess these are really NOT free form but now you can decide which way you want to make them. As I am cooking, as I sure many of you do also, I change things slightly to suit what I feel like actually eating for dinner. I use the recipe as a guideline.

Freeform Crab Lasagna With Artichokes
serves 6 (3 layer) or 3 (4 layer)
* 1/4 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/4 cup minced onion
* 1/4 cup minced fennel
* 1/4 cup flour
* 4 cups milk
* 1/8 tsp nutmeg
* 2 Tbsp roasted garlic
* Lemon juice, to taste
* Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
* 1/3 cup artichoke hearts
* 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
* 1 cup mozzarella, grated
* 1 lb crab meat

1. In medium sauce pot over medium-high heat, melt butter; sauté onion and fennel until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour to create a roux; cook for 2 more minutes. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, constantly stirring to prevent sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Season with nutmeg, roasted garlic, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts; set aside.
2. Heat a pot of water to a low boil and blanch pasta sheets for 1 minute. Transfer pasta to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well.
3. To form lasagna, place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Make a thin 4 inch by 4 inch puddle of the béchamel. Place a pasta sheet over the top. Thinly spread some ricotta and mozzarella over the pasta. Sprinkle some of the crab meat over the cheese. Top with more béchamel. Place another piece of pasta over the top, and then repeat the toppings. Top with a third piece of pasta, etc.
Spread béchamel over the top sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until warmed through and cheese has melted, about 7 minutes.
4. Transfer to plates and serve.

For dessert, we shared another mini cheesecake. These really are so good.

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