PERFECT MATCH Tangy capers offset the sweetness of the creamy smoked salmon in this pasta dish.
Why do I still love the foods I do? Delicious, fresh carrot rings still excite me on a plate; a pan of leeks fried in butter gets me going each time; fried fish takes me to my grandmother’s kitchen; courgettes and peas and I’m with my mother; a traditional oven roasted chicken will pull the heart strings every time. Every time I peel, chop and fry onions I tap into decades of habit and I return to places; memory, experience, emotion.
Still, sometimes it’s nice to tweak our habits. Recipes act as signposts to me; a general indication of direction or procedure; something to inspire a new variation. Here are a couple of tried-and-tested variations I have picked up over the years that could inspire you to tread a new path too. Simple but great flavours.
Pasta and salmon
Penne al salmone is a classic Italian dish for a reason! The cream interacts well with the smoky salmon, while the slow-cooked onion provides a back palette and the fried capers give bursts of tangy flavor to offset this sweet dish. The final umami effect is achieved using freshly grated Parmesan as a topping.
What you need
- 250g penne pasta
- 150g smoked salmon
- 1 red onion
- 3 tbsp drained capers
- 25g grated parmesan
What you do
Peel and chop the red onion and fry it over a low heat in oil with a blob of butter and pinch of salt. Add your pasta to a saucepan of well-salted boiling water, stirring occasionally as it cooks.
Remove the smoked salmon from its packaging and use a sharp knife to slice into pieces the small pieces – about half the size of your thumb. After cooking the onion for five minutes, turn up the heat and throw in the smoked salmon pieces. Keep turning with a wooden spoon, and after a minute add the capers to the mix, stir and cook for another minute.
Turn to the highest heat and pour in your cream around the sides of the pan. Cook the cream mixture until it boils and then give it a rolling boil for two to three minutes while the cream reduces.
The pasta will be cooked al dente at this stage. Pour it into a strainer, saving a little cooking water. Tip the pasta into cream mix, add the saved cooking water, and stir well for one minute. Spoon onto bowl plates, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and finish with milled black pepper and perhaps a pinch of salt.
Go-to cod dinner
Simple but classic. You prepare the dish and let the oven do the work! Fresh fish is essential here – as are red cherry tomatoes that are ripe, not yellow.
What you need
- 1 cod fillet, skin on
- 2 vine strands of red cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of dried rosemary
- New baby potatoes
- Olive oil
- Squeeze of lemon
What you do
Rinse the fish under a tap and lay skin-side down on an oven dish that has been drizzled with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle evenly with rosemary, add say five fingernail-sized cubes of butter around the length of fish. Begin to boil your clean new potatoes in their skins in salted water.
Place the strands of tomatoes around the fish and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°c. After 12 to 15 minutes it’s ready to take out and plate up with the boiled potatoes skins. If you fancy adding spinach, you could throw some into the potato water – it will be ready in just one minute.
Serve on a warmed plate. The seasoned, soft fish is the yin to the potatoes’ yang. The butter create a culinary bridge that sweet cherry tomatoes with their blistered skins can dance across, occasionally flirting with flashing background hints of rosemary. Delicious.
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.