Salmon and Crab Cannelloni

For this luxurious dish offish and crab wrapped in spinach pasta and enveloped in a creamy béchamel sauce the cannelloni are formed in an easy way using softened lasagne sheets. It is a perfect dinner party dish as it can be prepared in advance and needs only a crisp vegetable such as french beans or mange tout peas as an accompaniment. If you are serving it as a first course and your family or guests don’t have gigantic appetites (unlike my family) this quantity will serve 6.

Ingredients

  • 8 sheets lasagne verdi (the ‘no precooking’ type)
  • 250 g (8 oz) mixed brown and white crab meat (fresh or canned)
  • 750 g ( lb) tailpiece of salmon, filleted, skinned and cut into 1 cm (½ in) chunks
  • 3–4 teaspoons capers
  • 3–4 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 40 g ( oz) butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 40 g ( oz) plain flour
  • 450 ml (¾ pint) milk
  • 300 ml (½ pint) double cream
  • Salt and black pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Method

Butter a fairly large, shallow ovenproof dish. Fill a sink with hot water and sprinkle in a few drops of oil. Lay the lasagne sheets in the water and soak for 8–12 minutes until the pasta is soft enough to bend but not so soft that it will tear easily. Remove the pasta sheets, drain well on a flat surface and lay separately on one side while you prepare the filling.

Put the crab meat in a bowl with the salmon chunks and capers, season with the cayenne pepper and a little salt, then add the egg white and stir in thoroughly using a wooden spoon.

Pile the fish mixture evenly in lengthwise strips down the centre of each lasagne sheet, then roll the pasta round the filling to make a tubular cannelloni shape. Arrange the tubes carefully, close together in a single layer in the buttered dish, join side down.

To make the sauce melt the butter gently in a fairly large saucepan, add the garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring it around, then remove from the heat. When the bubbles subside stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the milk, only a little at a time at first, stirring very thoroughly until smooth. Stir in the cream. Return the pan to a higher heat and bring to the boil, stirring vigorously all the time. Bubble gently, still stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, season the sauce generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir in the egg yolk.

Spoon this thick sauce all over the cannelloni and sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake just above the centre of a preheated oven, 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4 for 40 minutes until golden brown.

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