The Italian name for this dish is Pasticcio di Pesce which, translated, is pasta baked in a creamy seafood sauce, it actually is very similar to the seafood lasagna that I have been preparing for years, although when I make my seafood lasagna I include cheese in the layering.
At least fifteen years ago, Don and I found a wonderful Italian restaurant on Hornby Street in Vancouver, BC, it was called Umberto’s and we loved to go there for lunch or dinner. We have been known to go to Vancouver for the sole purpose of having a special dinner and visiting that great city. The ambiance was wonderful, the food was delicious and we always left the restaurant planning another trip there.
Unfortunately, when I went online in June to make reservations for a return visit I learned that the owner, Umberto Mengi had sold his restaurant. That was disappointing indeed. However, we just adjusted our plans and went to one of his other Italian restaurants located in Whistler, BC. We had not been to Whistler since before the 2010 Olympic games and thought it would be interesting and fun to see what changes had occurred. You can read about those changes and the highlights of our trip in our recipe index under Grilled Rack of Lamb with Mint Pesto. While dining at the iL Caminetto di Umberto in Whistler, the waitress told us that the owner was planing to re-open the Vancouver restaurant sometime in October of this year. We are definitely looking forward to the opening.
In my ‘cookbook library’ I have two of Umberto’s cookbooks and this recipe for seafood lasagna is one that is listed in his book entitled the IL Fornaio Pasta Book and the recipes are authentic of Italy’s regional pasta dishes. This seafood lasagna is from the northern region of Italy and I have adapted it only slightly by my selection of seafood. Cheese is not included in the recipe book because it is said, the flavor detracts from the seafood flavors. However, I have included mozzarella cheese as it is very mild in flavor and it does help bind it together. Of course now that I added the cheese it is no longer an ‘authentic’ Italian dish. Also, I confess to not being a fresh pasta connoisseur and I am certain that I have never made pasta from scratch. I will be using store-bought dry lasagna noodles in place of the pasta-making experience.
According to Mr. Umberto, pasticcio means “trouble” because when the lasagna is cut and transferred to the dinner plate, it spreads out and is messy. So, if you make this seafood lasagna as ‘authentic’, without any cheese, be prepared as it will be much looser. Or should I say messier.
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2-1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- Olive oil for drizzling
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- ½ pound medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined, reserve liquids
- ½ pound sea scallops, cut into ¼-inch thick slices, reserve liquids
- ¼ pound cod, thawed if using frozen, cut in ½-inch cubes
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1/2 of a large lemon)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (for garnishment)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F
- Prepare a 9x12 oven-proof baking dish with olive oil or non-stick spray, reserve.
- Bring 5 quarts of water and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook half of the noodles in the boiling water until tender, remove and drain in a colander. Transfer the drained noodles to a large plate that has been lined with plastic wrap. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining noodles, cover with plastic wrap while preparing the sauce and filling.
- Bring the milk to a low boil in a saucepan, over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the butter, and cook stirring, until the flour is well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk, nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Mix well, add the reserved liquids from the shrimp and scallops, and bring to a boil and cook until the sauce becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and drizzle a little olive oil on top to keep it from forming a skin. Set aside until needed.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and
- garlic and cook just until the garlic is fragrant. Add the shrimp, scallops, cod and salmon and cook just until the shrimp begin to turn pink. Add the reserved béchamel sauce and bring just to a boil, gently mixing the sauce with the seafood. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Add ¼ of a cup of the seafood sauce to the bottom of the dish and arrange ⅓ of the noodles on the sauce, cutting to fit the dish. Spoon ¼ of the seafood sauce on the pasta then ½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat with the remaining layers, finishing with mozzarella cheese then sprinkle the parsley on top.
- Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.