Open lasagne of crab, tomato and fennel

Robert Thompson's open lasagne recipe has a wonderful light flavour from delicate crab meat, sweet, slow-roasted tomatoes and fragrant fennel. Robert uses a mix of local Isle of Wight tomatoes but any range of colourful tomatoes will also work well. This open lasagne will serve 4 as a starter or as a light summer lunch.

First published in 2016




Open lasagne


  • Hand blender


Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1
Spread the tomato slices out on a baking tray. Brush with a little rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour after which time the tomatoes should be softened and the flavour intensified
Meanwhile, heat a dash of rapeseed oil in a pan over a medium heat and sweat down the shallot for a few minutes until softened but without colouring
  • rapeseed oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil before mixing in the stock. Allow the liquid to cook for 5–10 minutes or until reduced by half. Add the double cream and adjust the seasoning to taste
  • 100ml of white wine
  • 400ml of stock, ideally crab stock, but light shellfish or fish stock would also work
  • 200ml of double cream
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and keep warm until ready to serve (or cool and gently warm through later if not serving immediately)
Bring a large pan of water to the boil over a medium heat and cook the lasagne sheets for 8–10 minutes until just al dente. Refresh in iced water to stop the cooking process then drain well. Cut each sheet in half and brush with a little rapeseed oil to stop them sticking. Reserve on a tray until ready to assemble
Dress the sliced fennel with the lemon juice and a little seasoning, before mixing through most of the chopped fennel fronds, reserving some for garnish
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and plunge the pasta into the water for 1 minute to heat through. Drain well and transfer to a large sauté pan over a gentle heat. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce to flavour and coat the lasagne sheets
Use a hand blender to whip up the remaining warm sauce into an aerated foam for serving. Lightly season the crab meat ready to assemble the lasagnes
Start with a layer of pasta in each serving dish, then add the warm tomato slices, dressed fennel and crab meat before repeating the layers twice more, finishing with a final sheet of pasta
Finish with a spoonful of the frothy sauce, a grating of pecorino and a sprinkling of fennel fronds
  • pecorino, grated, to serve
  • 1/4 bunch of fennel fronds, finely chopped

Robert Thompson's cooking is full of character and classical skill.

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