Editor’s note: This reader recipe is an online addition to our September 2017 cover story, “Recipes from the heart.”

Christmas Eve lasagna

By Mary Ciccolella

Our family Christmas Eve lasagna came into being when Christmas Eve madness was in full swing. Our family from the start has always been active in our congregation’s music program. When the kids came, commitments grew. I sang in the adult choir, and I directed the children’s choir. At Christmas, our family’s Italian tradition included the Feast of Seven Fishes—a long, leisurely meal with friends and family. Thus, because our schedules did not allow us to enjoy a leisurely meal anymore, Christmas Eve lasagna was born. The recipe helps us get nearly all of the traditional seafood into one delicious dish.

Recipe (makes one pan of lasagna)
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small onion, shopped
5 cups canned crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound small fresh shrimps, peeled and cleaned
1 pound small bay scallops
1 6-ounce can or 1 dozen fresh clams shucked and rinsed well
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
8 ounce package of cream cheese softened at room temperature
2 eggs beaten
10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1-pound can of good quality crab meat
a handful of fresh basil chopped
1 box of no-cook lasagna noodles
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 scallions (white part only, thinly sliced)
1 pound shredded mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

Start with the seafood sauce (the seafood gets added later):
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans of crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, until onions have wilted. Add the tomatoes and white wine and allow it to come to a simmer while you assemble the filling. We will add the seafood and the heavy cream a little later to ovoid over-cooking.

For the filling:
3 cups ricotta cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 eggs beaten
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
1-pound can of crab meat
1 chopped red bell pepper
3 scallions (white part only) thinly sliced
2 tablespoons basil, chopped
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until blended.

Now add the seafood to the sauce as follows:
1 pound shrimp peeled and cleaned (small shrimps will suffice)
1 pound small bay scallops
1 6-ounce can or 1 dozen fresh clams shucked depending on availability.
Allow the seafood to poach in the sauce.
Turn off the flame after 5 minutes and stir in the heavy cream.

Now assemble your masterpiece.

Into a lightly buttered lasagna pan, put some sauce on the bottom of the pan with no seafood. Then add a layer of no-cook lasagna noodles. Be liberal with the sauce as it is what cooks the lasagna noodles. Next add a layer of the filling and a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Top with seafood sauce and repeat layers until you have three complete layers. A final layer of noodles, seafood sauce and mozzarella completes the lasagna.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees until browned and bubbly. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving. This can easily be assembled uncooked a day ahead of time and refrigerated. Allow lasagna to come up to room temperature before baking to avoid over-cooking the seafood.

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