We were driving to Melbourne on Friday afternoon trying to think of some new recipes for this week. It's been cold and miserable so the discussion was all about hearty winter stews and casseroles. We got talking about Macaroni Cheese and Noel suggested a salmon or tuna mornay. My mum used to do one when we were kids and I thought it was pretty amazing. Now, looking back, I think the basics were right but the fresh salmon (instead of the tinned), fresh bread bits (instead of store bought crumbs) and the addition of the sauteed vegetables really lift this humble classic. Probably the most important change is the gruyere instead of tasty in the bechamel, gruyere is meant for melting (fondu anyone) so it adds a delicate cheesey and nutty flavour to the sauce without making it oily or heavy.
350g orrchiete pasta (par cooked) - I popped it in salted boiling water for about 6 mins
1 carrot - finely chopped
1/2 red capsicum - finely chopped
1 stick of celery - finely chopped
1 onion - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 bunch parsely - finely chopped
300g fresh salmon (skin off) - chopped in to small (2cm) squares
1 cup frozen peas
4 hard boiled eggs
100g butter - chopped
100g plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 litre milk - warm to hot
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
4 slices stale bread - I used sourdough multigrain - finely chopped (don't food process - you don't want crumbs - you want little bits)
1/2 bunch parsley - finely chopped
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Zest of one lemon - finely grated
Salt and pepper
15g butter - melted
Preheat the oven to 170C. Begin boiling the eggs by placing them in a saucepan and covering with cold water. Cover and bring to the boil over high heat until they come to a rapid boil. Turn to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove them from the saucepan and allow to cool. Meanwhile place the pasta in a saucepan of rapidly boiling water, with a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Boil for 6 mins or until the pasta is about half cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the pasta is cooking chop your onion, garlic, carrot, capsicum and celery and melt the butter in a pan. Season with salt and pepper and fry the vegetables for about 5 - 7 mins or until soft and remove from the heat. Combine pasta and sauteed vegetables along with the chopped (yes raw) salmon, parsley and frozen peas.
Chop the bread slices and parsely for the topping at this stage and grate the tasty and the parmesan. combine this in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Begin the Bechamel sauce by heating the milk in a jug in the microwave until it's quite warm and grating your gruyere. Put the butter in a large saucepan to melt over a medium heat. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the plain flour until you have a smooth paste or roux. If it's cooking too quickly remove from the hotplate while you do this. Return to the hotplate and gradually add the warm milk, whisking it to keep a smooth consistency. Once all the milk is added turn the heat to medium and allow to simmer for a few minutes, whisking regularly. Add the grated gruyere and whisk until combined and smooth. The sauce should be thick and glossy. Remove from heat.
Slice your hard boiled eggs. Pour the bechamel sauce into the pasta mixture and stir to combine, adding the eggs at the last moment so that they are stirred through but don't break up too much. Pour pasta mixture and sauce into a lasagne dish and smooth out to the edges - try to ensure that the salmon, vegetables and eggs are evenly distributed.
Melt the butter for the topping, pour over the other ingredients and mix through with your hands. Scatter the topping over the top of the lasagne dish, ensuring it goes right out to the edges and is even.
Place the casserole into the preheated oven on a rack that is in the middle of the oven, or just below, and bake for 25 minutes. The topping should be crisp and the creamy sauce bubbling. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Why half cooked pasta and raw salmon? I hear you ask... Because there is nothing worse than over cooked pasta or fish, this way the fish cooks in the mornay while it's in the oven and the pasta continues to cook, and should be al dente when you pull it out. I know it seems like a lot of steps to pull such a simple meal together, and it is, but it's all simple and it takes 35 minutes to get it into the oven from woe to go. Anyway I hope you like it! x