Smoked salmon, spinach, white cheddar layered between sheets of pasta smothered in a rich béchamel sauce. But, it is the fresh dill that brings the dish alive.
The secret to a great béchamel sauce is the roux. Roux is equal parts fat, usually butter, and flour. Béchamel sauce requires a white roux and is mainly used for thickening. You want to melt the butter on a heat high enough to melt th e butter but not so high it burns it, usually a medium heat. Be patience and let the butter melt slowly. Once melted remove it from the heat and whisk in the flour before returning to the heat. You only cook the roux long enough to eliminate the flour’s raw flavor, about 2 to 5 minutes. When done you have a silky paste the consistency of Elmer’s glue.
The amount of roux you need depends on the amount of liquid in the recipe. A good rule of thumb, For every cup of liquid you need a tablespoon of flour. So your roux would be one tablespoon of melted butter and 1 tablespoon of flour in this scenario.
The mystery of an onion. When a recipe calls for an onion it doesn’t mean any ole onion will do. When I first starting cooking I would grab whatever onion I had on hand. Then I become all foodie snooty and learned that the color of your onion plays an important role in your recipes.
Here’s a basic guide:
Red Onion: Best raw in salads, sandwiches, burgers, pickling, salsas.
Yellow Onion: Best for long cooking or sautéing in soups, stocks, risotto, sauces, stews.
White Onion: Can be used raw or cooked often called for in Mexican food, white sauces, pasta salads, or raw in salads, chili, and potato salads.
Sweet Onion: These are onion ring gold! They are great cooked or raw and work best in Gratins, roasted vegetables, onion rings, or raw in salads and on sandwiches. Tip: If you ever come across Maui Sweet Onion Chips grab two bags!
Smoked Salmon Lasagna
- 6 ounces smoked salmon
- 2 cups Milk
- 1 white onion, quartered
- 1 Bay leaf
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 leek
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces fresh spinach
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
- 2 cups white cheddar, shredded
- 16 ounces lasagna pasta sheets
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Add milk, onion, bay leaf, and cloves to a saucepan and warm.
- Meanwhile make the roux. Melt the butter in a small pan, remove from heat, and whisk in the flour. Remove the onion from the milk and whisk in the roux. Keep whisking until you have a thick white sauce without any lumps. Set aside.
- Clean and remove the bottom root from the leek. Slice in half lengthwise and then into half-moons. In a clean skillet, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the leeks, it should sizzle and crackle when the leeks hit the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the spinach to the leeks and season with salt. Place the garlic on the end of a fork and use it to gently toss the spinach and leeks giving it that nice garlic flavor. Once the spinach is wilted transfer to a bowl that has a colander inside and squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Grease a lasagna pan or casserole dish with butter. Spoon a little béchamel on the bottom of the pan and add the sheets of pasta overlapping and filling in the bottom of the pan. Add some more béchamel over the sheets. Next, spread some of the spinach and leek mixture over the sauce and then add some of the smoked salmon. Now sprinkle some of the fresh dill on top. Spoon some more of the béchamel sauce the dill.
- Just take a spoon and drizzle the sauce over the layers. You do not have to have the layer covered. It will all merge and come together in the baking process.
- Season with freshly grind black pepper and cover with a third of the cheese. Spoon some béchamel sauce on top. Repeat the process starting with the pasta sheets and ending with the béchamel sauce. Add another layer of pasta sheets, béchamel and the rest of the cheese.
- Place the lasagna into the oven and bake 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Garnish with fresh chopped dill and serve immediately.