Lovely, comforting lasagne

Tasting

DELICIOUSLY FISHY Salmon, spinach and kale lasagne is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Food
Sandra Cabot

Making lasagne is not rocket science, but it takes time to do. So steer well clear if you are in a hurry! However, if you have the time to cook it without stress, there are few things lovelier than a homemade lasagne.
It’s a forgiving dish, and you can have a meat, veggie or seafood filling. Though it originated in Italy, many of the types of lasagne we enjoy would be unrecognisable to an Italian. One day I listened to an Irish radio presenter confess to an Italian chef that here in Ireland many people are partial to lasagne and chips, particularly good if you have a hangover. The chef was silent, but somehow his shock vibrated down the radio.

Eat your greens
To avoid extra hassle, I strongly advise buying lasagne sheets you don’t need to cook in advance. If you only have the regular sheets, dip them in boiling water for a few minutes before you start layering. Just be careful, it’s palavery and the sheets can end up sticking together.
Recently I got some good strong green and purple kale from a Galway grower called Uncle Matt, and we got some tasty organic spinach from Chris Smith at the Westport Country Market. The weather was miserable and suddenly a baked, cheesy, carby dinner (redeemed by its leafy credentials) seemed like a fine idea.

Salmon, Spinach and Kale Lasagne
What you need

For the filling:

  • 9-12 lasagne sheets
  • Glug of olive or veg oil
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 leeks
  • 300g spinach
  • 200g kale
  • 400g skinless salmon filets
  • Bunch of chopped chives
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 75g butter
  • 70g sieved plain flour
  • 950ml milk
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp English mustard
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 75g grated parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt

What you do next:
Finely chop the leeks and wash thoroughly. Wash and chop the spinach and kale.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, add the butter and when melted add the leeks. Sauté for about five minutes. Then add the spinach, kale and chives and cook till wilted. Discard excess liquid.
Chop the salmon filets into bite-sized pieces, stir into the pan and cook lightly till pink. Set aside and make the sauce.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the sieved flour and whisk briskly to prevent it becoming lumpy. Keep the pan over a low heat and cook the roux for about two minutes, taking care not to let it brown. Slowly add the milk, whisking all the while to avoid lumps.
When all the milk has been incorporated, cook the sauce at a low simmer for about four minutes till it thickens. Stir in the lemon zest, mustard, dill, nutmeg and half the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Next, assemble the lasagne. You’re aiming for three layers of salmon and sauce. Leave enough sauce over to cover the top of the lasagne. Lightly oil the bottom of a large oven dish, and then spoon a thin layer of the sauce over the surface. Place the lasagne strips over the sauce and spoon in a third of the salmon/greens mixture.
Spoon sauce over the salmon, then cap with another layer of lasagne sheets. Place another third of the salmon mix on top, spoon over the sauce. Top again with lasagne sheets and repeat the process. This is the final layer.
Cover the pasta with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the rest of the grated Parmesan. Pop into the oven at 180ºC and cook for around thirty minutes or until cooked and the top is golden. Allow to cool for ten minutes before serving with the accompaniment of your choice – steamed veg, salad (or, shhh! chips!)

Sandra

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.