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Salmon-Noodle Casserole

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Active Time:  30 Minutes
Total Time:  1 Hour 55 Minutes
  Serves 6
Tuna-noodle may well be the great American casserole. Cheap, nourishing and easy to make in bulk, it's a staple of school lunchroom cooks and moms with smaller but no-less voracious crowds to feed at home. Prepared with canned fish, condensed soup and potato chips, it is, on the other hand, not exactly what one would call fine dining. And yet, as a concept ("seafood and pasta gratin with mushroom sauce"), it sounds almost restaurant elegant. And so it ends up in this fully-tweaked version, complete with fresh poached salmon, white wine and imported pasta. Serve it at a dinner party (but don’t refer to it as a "casserole") and your guests will be dazzled.
3 thick boneless skinless salmon fillets (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
One 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup (about) whole milk

3/4 pound imported semolina pasta, preferably penne

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 pound coarsely chopped cremini or white button mushrooms
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 cups frozen tiny peas, thawed, drained
One 4-ounce jar chopped pimientos, drained
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving
Arrange salmon in shallow baking dish just large enough to fit. Pour clam juice and wine over salmon. Cover with foil and bake until fish is just opaque in center, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cool salmon in dish. Transfer salmon to cutting board; reserve cooking liquid. Coarsely flake salmon, breaking up no more than necessary to remove any bones. Strain cooking liquid into 4-cup measuring cup; add enough milk to cooking liquid to equal 3 1/2 cups liquid total.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, rinse and drain again.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion and garlic. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover and cook until juices form, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Gradually whisk in milk mixture. Whisk in 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat. Partially cover pan and cook until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then stir in mustard.

Salmon, pasta and mushroom sauce can be made 1 hour ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter deep 4-quart baking dish. Toss pasta, mushroom sauce, peas and pimientos in large bowl. Season generously with pepper. Gently stir in salmon. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in small bowl. Sprinkle over pasta. Cut remaining 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and sprinkle over pasta. Bake until top is crisp and golden and pasta is hot, about 40 minutes (do not overbake). Cool 5 minutes. Serve hot, passing remaining cheese separately.

Recipe created exclusively for by Michael McLaughlin.

Recipe reprinted by permission of . All rights reserved.
Date Added: 01/01/2008
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Nutrition Facts per Serving
Yield:   Serves 6
Calories: 595
Fat. Total: 23g
Fiber: 5g
Carbohydrates, Total: 60g
Sodium: 547mg
% Cal. from Fat: 35%
Cholesterol: 92mg
Protein: 36g
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