Creamy Scallop Lasagna with Focaccia
Before we get down to biznis, a note: this is an impressive meal. For those of you who like to have dates over to your house and make them dinner, this is date food. I'm not one to blow my own horn much, but this dish has been known to moisten panties from across the street (if you're a ladychef making this, switch that to the appropiate innuendo). It is not remotely healthy in any way, but it is incredibly delicious if you like scallops.
What we're making here is a lasagna, but with a creamy white sauce rather than the usual marinara, and with scallops (and various other dead things from the sea) rather than the usual red meat. As a side dish/appetizer, we're gonna crank out some focaccia, complete with rosemary-garlic rub and olive-oil-and-balsamic-vinegar dipperooni. Yes, I made that word up.
We'll start with the focaccia. Ingredients are as follows, and as are pictured below:
- 1 package quick-rising yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- around 3 cups unbleached flour
- some cornmeal
- For the topping, grab some olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic, some rosemary (half as much if dried), and some salt and pepper
- Start off by dissolving the yeast in the water. Add the oil, sugar (sugar is yeast food), and the salt. Mix that all up.
- If you have a stand mixer, this is easy. If you don't, it's hard. Start adding the flour a handful at a time and beat the shit out of it. When your arm is sore and the dough forms a ball, you're done. This is pre-ball:
- This is post-ball. Now you're going to flour your board and knead the shit out of that thing. Don't be scared of the flour, the dough won't really suck up any more than it needs.
- We're talking ten or fifteen minutes of solid kneading. The dough will get tight and shiny, that's when you're done. This was tight and shiny, but by the time I grabbed the camera, the yeast was already farting:
- Married/bejeweled goons: taking rings off before kneading.
- So grab your doughball, rub it down lightly with some olive oil, and put a piece of plastic wrap down over it. Stick that in the corner of the kitchen and let it rest.
- While that's resting, we'll start the lasagna. Dig it:
- Shitloads of butter.
- A bunch of green onions
- A few cloves of garlic (yes, that's frozen minced garlic. Don't laugh, that stuff's pretty amazing. They mince the garlic, shove it those little cubes, then flash-freeze it. It's not quite the same as real garlic, but it's what I had).
- A big hunk o' spinach. You could use mushrooms instead of or in addition to spinach, if you wanted.
- 1.5 pounds of scallops. As you will see, I only had a pound of scallops, so I chucked in a quarter-pound each of shrimp and calamari rings.
- Lasagna noodles. These are fresh ones, from Trader Joe's. They are awesome because you don't have to boil them, they're easy to work with, and they taste great. You get serious props for making your own lasagna noodles, though.
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup chicken stock (the canned stuff is FINE)
- 1 cup heavy cream (I told you it wasn't low-fat)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth. Obviously, I opted for the vermouth.
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 2 cups of shredded cheese. I used Jarlsberg-- for those not familiar with it, it's a bit harder than mozzarella, and has more pronounced flavor. It's still pretty mild, though, so don't be scared of it.
- Shitty and Twitchy smell the seafood already. Sorry, guys.
- Chuck a big hunk of butter in a saute pan. Add the green onions and garlic.
- When those are cooked, start adding the spinach a handful at a time. It will wilt down a lot. When it's all cooked, dump the contents of that pan into a bowl and save it.
- Throw another big ol' hunk of butter in the pan. Add the seafood. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SEAFOOD. You want the shrimp to be barely pink, and the scallops to be just opaque. it doesn't take long.
- When they're done, dump that pan into a strainer set in a bowl-- you want to save all that buttery seafood drippage, it is Love.
- Back to the focaccia for a minute. Holy shit, look at that, it doubled in size. Yeast is an amazing critter.
- Dump some cornmeal on in a pan to keep it from sticking, and spread the thing out as best as possible. If you're the retentive type, you could press it to the edges of a square baking sheet, but I'm just as happy leaving it oblong like it is. You're gonna cut it anyway, right?
- Okay, we're switching back and forth now, things are getting hectic in the kitchen, but it's also when they get fun. Here I'm making a roux, a mixture of equal parts fat (butter in this case) and flour. Cook it just long enough that the flour doesn't taste like flour-- we still want this to be a white roux (it's not as dark as it looks in that picture). YES MY STOVETOP IS DISGUSTING THANK YOU. I spilled something gnarly, just ignore it:
- Add the heavy cream, vermouth, buttery seafood drippings, and seasoning to the sauce (which no longer a roux, more of a bechamel). DO NOT stop stirring. Notice how it totally coats the spoon and sides of the pan. That's exactly what we want.
- Put the half-and-half in the bottom of a pan (so the noodles don't stick) and assemble the lasagna in the folowing order: noodles, spinach, seafood, cheese, white sauce.
- Cover with foil, and throw that lasagna in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Then take the foil off and do another 20. Then take it out and let it sit for another 15 so everything congeals nicely.
- OK, back to the focaccia. In a small pan, put a couple cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary into some olive oil. Let that simmer so the flavors infuse the oil but don't burn the garlic.
- Brush that on your focaccia. Chuck it in a 375-degree oven for half an hour.
- I like olives, my wife doesn't. Guess which half is mine? Anyway, the brown stuff you're seeing is some parmesan cheese I sprinkled on. Focaccia: done.
- Layers Of Love:
- So, the temps are different in the recipes, the cooktimes are different; these are balancing acts you need to work out before you start cooking. For example, the focaccia calls for 375 for 30 minutes. The lasagna calls for 350 for two twenty-minute intervals, then a fifteen-minute rest. So I cooked the lasagna for twenty minutes at 350; when it came time to take the foil off, that's when I put in the focaccia also. After the 20 minutes without foil, I took the lasagna out and cranked the oven up 25 degrees. By the time the lasagna was done with its 15-minute rest, the focaccia was perfectly done in the oven and ready to cut and serve piping hot.
- Oh, I almost forgot about that. Dump some olive oil on a plate, dump some good balsamic vinegar on that, and mix the two up. Use that as the dipping "sauce" for your focaccia.
- ENJOY, and have fun cooking! OH GOD I fucked up some of the thumbnails. Oh well, they should all be clicky, sorry for the gigantohuge images.