Seafood Casserole

serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped leeks
1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 cup Sherry
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 pound medium shrimp (or large shrimp, cut in half)
12 ounces firm white fish (I used halibut), cut into one inch pieces
10 ounces bay scallops (or sea scallops, cut in half)
1 9-ounce box of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter together.  Add the leeks, fennel, salt and pepper and saute, over medium heat for about 5 or  6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.  Add the garlic and saute one minute more.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Make the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring with a whisk.  Cook the flour for a couple of minutes and add the bouillon cube, whisking til it dissolves. Slowly add in the milk, whisking.  Add the nutmeg, sea salt and pepper.  Whisk until sauce is creamy and thick.  Add the Sherry. Turn off heat and add the cheese.

Add the sauce to the vegetables in the bowl and mix well together.  Add the seafood and artichoke and mix gently.  Pour into a baking dish (3-quart is a good size). 

Mix the chopped parsley, bread crumbs and cheese together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 25 minutes.  Broil the top for about one minute, until it is golden brown.

Serve over rice or noodles.  There's lots of broth, so serve some nice crusty bread with it.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge and it firms up quite a bit the next day.

The Italian Dish