Tom Kitchin may be a famous Scottish Chef but this is his wife’s recipe.
This is the kind of recipe I call true comfort food. The traditional lasagna element of bechamel is used here. But instead of an Italian-style filling, there’s a nod to this lasagna’s Scandinavian roots. Smoked salmon is layered over an aromatic mixture of leeks and spinach. Two kinds of cheese are showered over each layer more cheddar than parmesan. No-bake noodles make short work of the pasta part. And you can make it in advance. It’s ready to bake and serve whenever you wish. It’s from, Michaela, the wife of the extraordinarily well-named Tom Kitchin. Tom is the youngest British Chef to be awarded a Michelin Star. He was 29 at the time and only six months earlier he and his wife Michaela had opened his eponymous restaurant The Kitchin (78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh Tel: +44 131 555 1755). In talking about today’s recipe, Kitchin said he tried everything to make it his own. But Michaela’s recipe won hands down.
So How Did We Stumble on this Recipe?
Andrew and I became obsessed with “The Great British Menu” on Amazon Prime. The show spotlighted celebrated chefs from 8 regions of Great Britain. They were competing to cook at a major event in British life. From Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday to Wimbledon, the chefs fought it out over a starter, a fish course, a main course, and dessert. We literally watched the program for days on end. And when it ended, we were crestfallen. Then up popped a suggestion. Titled “My Greatest Dishes”, it featured many of our favorite chefs from the Great British menu. And the concept was just great. These culinary stars were asked to choose 4 recipes that made them famous. Along the way, they also told the story of their lives through food. But why the lasagna?
It might surprise you to learn that lasagna didn’t originate in Italy.
Rightfully, Italy should be credited for perfecting the scrumptious dish we call lasagna. Its origins, however, are in Ancient Greece. Lasagna is derived from the Greek word ‘Laganon’ which is the first known form of pasta. Laganon’s name came from the method it was made. Laganon used to describe flat dough that sliced in strips. The Italian lasagna that we’re familiar with originated in Naples during the Middle Ages. But hold on, one of the first references to modern-day lasagna was found in an English cookbook dating from the 1390s! It was a dish with layers of pasta but without the tomatoes, which weren’t introduced to Europe from their native South America until the 1600s. It wasn’t until the 1880s that an Italian cookbook made reference to lasagna featuring tomato sauce. Here’s today’s recipe followed by a couple of other cook-worthy lasagna recipes.
Smoked Salmon Lasagna from Michaela Kitchin
Smoked salmon is layered over a wonderfully aromatic mixture of leeks and spinach, bechamel sauce and two kinds of cheese.
- 100g/7 tbsp. of unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100g/3.5 oz of flour
- 950ml/4 Cups of whole milk
- 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp of grated nutmeg
- 1 leek, cut into thin strips
- 400g/14 oz of baby spinach
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 8–10 no-boil lasagna sheets
- 500g/17.5 oz. of smoked salmon, cut into 2cm squares
- 250g/ 8 oz. of Cheddar, grated
- 50g/ 2 oz. of Parmesan, grated
- 4 dill sprigs, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Green salad, to serve
- Step 1 In a large bowl, submerge the no-boil noodles in warm water, separating each as you drop them in the water.
- Step 2 Melt 75g/ 5 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook out for 1–2 minutes, then slowly add the milk, stirring as you go. Cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring continuously without letting the sauce boil too hard until thickened. Once thickened, add the mustard and nutmeg.
- Step 3 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350 C and grease a lasagne dish with butter.
- Step 4 Melt the remaining 25g/ 2tbsp. of butter in a saucepan, add the leek, and cook for 2–3 minutes to soften a little. Season with salt and pepper, then add the spinach leaves (a handful at a time is easier) and the garlic and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Drain off the excess liquid.
- Step 5 Spread some of the sauce over the bottom of the dish and top with a layer of lasagna sheets, trimmed to fit the lasagna pan if necessary. Top with some of the leek and spinach mixture, then some smoked salmon. Sprinkle over some cheddar and parmesan. Repeat the process twice, finishing the top layer with sauce, a few pieces of salmon, and grated cheese.
- Step 6 Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and the lasagne is tender. (To check if the lasagne is cooked, insert a fork – if there’s no resistance, it’s ready.)
- Step 7 Sprinkle the dill over the top and serve with a fresh green salad.