In my conversation with chef Jacques Pépin, it struck me how many times he mentioned cooking smarter and how things didn't have to be unnecessarily complicated. This recipe is a great example of that. You can turn a little bit of leftover cooked fish into a comforting casserole that will feed the whole family!
Jacques says, "This is a delicious and economical way of using leftovers from a whole fish or fillets of any fish, from salmon to catfish. I often prepare this meal — or a variation on it — when I have leftover cooked fish or shellfish, layering it on top of cooked spinach and farfalle in a casserole. A light béchamel sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese complete the dish, which is then gratinéed in a hot oven."
This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover fish from chef Jacques Pépin's Broiled Salmon with Miso Glaze, but you can also just buy canned tuna or salmon instead for a quick shortcut. While it may seem like a basic noodle casserole, I love that it has a bed of wilted spinach, so it can truly stand alone as dinner.
- Christine, October 2015
Pasta Gratin with Fish and Spinach
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet until it is hot, but not smoking. Add the spinach, still wet from washing, and cook, covered, over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, until wilted and soft. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon the spinach into a 6-cup gratin dish.
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the farfalle, stir, and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender but still slightly al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, then cool it by running cold water over it for 30 seconds; drain well.
Toss the pasta with the fish, breaking up the fish if necessary, and spread it on top of the spinach in the gratin dish.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and mix well. Cook for 30 seconds, whisking, then add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring with the whisk. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix well. Pour the sauce over the fish and pasta mixture and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake the gratin for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot throughout and browned on top. Serve.
Reprinted with permission from Essential Pépin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food by Jacques Pépin, copyright (c) 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.