Creamy Seafood Pasta Bake
Pasta baked with mixed seafood in a creamy white béchamel sauce. It's like a gratin made with pasta - which is why I describe this as French-ish! The key to getting gorgeous flavour in the sauce is searing the seafood in the skillet first, then making the sauce in the same skillet to soak up all those seafood flavours!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
- 7 oz / 200 g macaroni or other pasta of choice
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil , separated
- 1 lb / 500 g mixed raw seafood (Marinara seafood mix) (Note 1)
- 2 leeks , white and pale green part only finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder) OR 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup panko
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (high recommended)
- Finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Cook pasta according to packet directions. Drain and pour into baking dish.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over very high heat. Add seafood and sear for 30 seconds, turn then sear the other side for 30 seconds (should still be raw inside). Remove into baking dish.
Return pan to stove, add remaining 1/2 tbsp oil and turn down to medium. Cook leeks and garlic for 3 minutes or until soft. Add to baking dish.
Mix pasta, seafood and leeks together in the baking dish.
Melt butter in the skillet. Add flour and mix into the butter. Cook for 1 minute,
Add 1 cup of milk and use a whisk to combine - it will thicken quickly. Add remaining milk and bouillon cube (crumbled) and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking occasionally at first then constantly as it thickens, for around 5 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (see photo in post). Season with salt and pepper.
Pour into the baking dish. Top with panko and parmesan.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the top is golden.
Rest for 5 minutes before serving, garnished with fresh parsley if desired.
I served this with garlic spinach (Note 2).
1. I use a store bought mixed seafood Marinara because my seafood store makes a great one with pieces of fish, calamari, shrimp/prawns and mussels. Marinara is really great value because it's made with offcuts. It also means that sometimes, they are a bit dodgy! Look for plump cubes of fish and fresh looking prawns. Otherwise, make this using whatever seafood you want.
2. Garlic Spinach I served on the side: 2 small English spinach bunches, washed and leaves torn off stems. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 garlic cloves minced in a large skillet, THEN put it on the stove. As the oil heats, it will infuse with garlic favour. When the garlic starts to turn golden, add spinach and start tossing immediately (to avoid garlic browning too much) until spinach just wilts. Remove immediately - remember it will wilt more while being served.
3. Seafood broth - I mention in the post that proper restaurants make seafood gratin using a homemade seafood broth. I am totally happy to use store-bought chicken, veg and beef broth but I just feel that store bought seafood broth (stock) is not up to scratch. So when I go all out, I make this with a homemade seafood broth. Here's how:
* Reduce milking recipe to 1 1/2 cups, add 1/4 cup cream and 1 1/2 cups seafood broth. The sauce will need to cook for longer to reduce to thickness per photo in post.
* Seafood broth - Place in large pot: 1.5kg/3lb fish heads & bones (no gills, not oily fish like salmon) + 1.5L/1.5qt water + 1/2 brown onion + 1 each chopped celery & carrot + 1 tsp black peppercorns + 1 bay leaf. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until reduced by about 2/3. Strain (squish out juice from fish and veggies) and use per above instructions (should end up with about 2 1/2 cups).
4. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.
Serving: 339g | Calories: 514kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.9g | Protein: 33.2g | Fat: 17.5g | Saturated Fat: 8.1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 448mg | Potassium: 270mg | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 9.1g | Vitamin A: 900IU | Vitamin C: 6.6mg | Calcium: 280mg | Iron: 4.1mg