“It’s said that Italians don’t eat cheese and fish together, but I’ve often seen nonnas grating a wodge of parmesan into a seafood risotto or a pot of pasta. And I thought, if they’re doing it, it must be good! ”
Make your dough first. Place the flour on a board or in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Beat the egg until smooth, then pour it into the well.
Using the tips of your fingers, gradually mix the egg with the flour until combined. Knead the bits of dough into one smooth lump. You can also do this step in a food processor. Just whizz the flour and egg until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Tip onto a work surface and bring together with your hands.
Knead the dough to develop the gluten; this makes your pasta springy instead of flabby when you cook it. There’s no secret to kneading. You just have to bash the dough around a bit with your hands, squashing it into the table, reshaping it, stretching it and squashing it again. Stop when your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky.
Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
It’s not the end of the world if you haven’t got a pasta machine, just use your rolling pin. The problem you’ll have is getting the pasta thin enough to work with. The way around this is to roll lots of small pieces. You’ll be rolling your pasta into a more circular shape than you’ll get from a machine.
If using a machine, make sure it’s firmly clamped to a clean, long work surface. Dust the surface with flour, then take a lump of dough the size of a large orange and press it out flat with your fingertips.
Set the pasta machine at its widest setting and roll the dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks. Click the machine down a setting and roll the dough through again. Fold the dough in half, click the machine back up to the widest setting and roll it through again. Repeat 5 or 6 times.
Work the dough through all the machine’s settings, from the widest to the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the dough with flour every time you run it through. When you reach the narrowest setting, fold the dough in half, then in half again, then once more into a squarish piece of dough.
Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll through the settings for the last time, you should get a silky, rectangular sheet of pasta with straight edges. For the lasagne sheets needed in these recipes, keep rolling the pasta until it’s somewhere between the thickness of a beer mat and a playing card.
Cut the pasta into 6 sheets of 8cm x 30cm, and cut the rest into 8cm x 12cm sheets. It dries faster than you might think, so don’t wait more than a minute or two to cut it. Lay a damp tea towel on top of the pasta to help prevent it drying out.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4.
For the béchamel sauce, place the milk and saffron in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil.
In a second pan, melt 75g of the butter. Stir in the flour to make a paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the hot milk to the pan, a ladleful at a time, whisking as you go.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, smooth sauce. Finely grate and stir in most of the Parmesan and season well.
Scrub and debeard the mussels, discarding any that remain open when tapped. Halve the sole fillets lengthways, then thinly slice the salmon.
Melt the remaining butter in a large, deep frying pan. Peel, finely slice and fry the garlic over a medium heat for 1 minute, or until golden.
Add the rosemary sprigs and anchovies to the pan and fry for a few more minutes, or until the anchovies have dissolved.
Add the mussels, shake the pan and cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mussels have all opened (throw away any that haven’t after this time).
Turn off the heat, then remove the mussels from their shells, putting the meat back into the pan (discard the shells). Stir to coat in the garlicky juices, discard the rosemary sprigs, then stir the mussel mixture through the béchamel sauce.
Grease 6 individual baking dishes (measuring about 12cm x 16cm each) with a little oil and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Cook the sheets of pasta, a few pieces at a time, for about 1 minute. Remove with tongs and spread over a clean tea towel to drain.
To assemble, place a long sheet of lasagne across each dish so that it overhangs the sides. Add a mixed layer of lemon sole and salmon, then spoon over a layer of the béchamel. Top with a smaller rectangle of pasta. Repeat until you get to the last of the béchamel sauce, then fold over the overhanging pasta to enclose. Top each lasagne with a king prawn, then scatter over the remaining parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling at the edges. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.