Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagne

February 28, 2011

Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley wine country

Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagne

Variety: Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris

Serves 8

This recipe comes from Nick’s Italian Café, which sits behind a modest storefront on the main drag in downtown McMinnville in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It’s so versatile you can pair it with Pinot Gris or Noir—or order a bottle of both and see which suits you better!

8 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1/2 pound white mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour

4 cups hot whole milk

3/4 pound fresh or dried lasagne noodles

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

9 to 12 ounces Dungeness crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage and patted dry on paper towels to remove excess liquid

1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

3/4 cup pine nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the garlic cloves in the center of a medium piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with the oil, fold the foil into a packet, and roast for 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Mash the garlic into a paste and set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Melt 8 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk and simmer gently, stirring often and reducing the heat if needed, until the sauce is as thick as heavy cream, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. About 15 minutes before the béchamel is finished cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh lasagne noodles and cook until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes. If using dried noodles, cook as the package directs. Drain and separate the noodles and set aside.

5. To finish the sauce, stir in the garlic paste, lemon zest, and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and cover the surface of the béchamel sauce with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

6. To assemble the lasagne, grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with the 1 teaspoon butter. Line the bottom of the dish with one third of the lasagne noodles. Scatter the crab over the noodles, spread one-third of the béchamel on top, then sprinkle with half the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses. Cover with another one-third of the noodles, scatter the reserved mushrooms on top, add dollops of ricotta (use all the ricotta), and spread another one-third the béchamel on top. Cover with the remaining noodles, spread the remaining béchamel on top, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheeses, and scatter the pine nuts on top.

7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Allow to rest for 10 minutes (so the lasagne can set up), then slice and serve.

Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

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