Food. For as long as I can remember it has been a huge part of my life. Growing up, there was never a time when my mum or dad or grandparents weren’t making something, or at least trying to. My dad was, and still is, quite experimental in the kitchen, with my mum favouring baking over actually ‘cooking’. I tried my hand at the baking side of things throughout my teenage years, with moderate success, I made bouncy cakes, crunchy cookies and even the occasional pie. But this did not stop my diet during the first year of university consisting solely of Marks and Spencer meals you could just pop in the microwave and have in 4 minutes. It was only when I moved out of student accommodation that I was able to be more adventurous with my cooking (for a student).
Of all places, a trip to southern Egypt in summer 2014 introduced me a seafood pasta combination that I had never tried before. I came back home and immediately wanted to try to make my own version. Over the years, I have developed it slightly to merge what I tried that summer with a recipe more typical of Italian dishes.
My recipe mixes a simple salmon pasta with a delicious aglio e olio, which when translated from Italian, literally means garlic and oil. When you think about it, most popular Italian dishes will include garlic and oil in some way, shape or form but the great thing about aglio e olio is that is it. Granted, I do add some little extras, but the base is always simple.
A traditional pasta dish from Naples, I hope you enjoy my take on it.
I’m really not a fan of measuring things when I cook – favouring the ‘until it looks like…’ method, but here are some guidelines just in case.
- 2 mugs worth of gluten free fusilli or penne pasta with a few extra handfuls if you’re hungry. I also do love to use bucatini which is my favourite type of pasta to cook with.
- Around 100mls of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 fillets of salmon – skinless and boneless
- 1 teaspoon of chili flakes – give or take for your own preferences
- 5-8 cloves of garlic, depending on size and how much you like garlic
- 1 red onion
- A handful of broccoli florets
- A handful of french beans, chopped in half
- Black pepper for seasoning
- Salt for the pasta water
- 1 tablespoon of cream cheese (optional)
- A splash of milk (optional)
- I rarely make this with fresh salmon, which of course can go straight in to the pan to cook, but I usually start by putting frozen salmon into the oven, wrapped in some foil for about 20 minutes, seasoned with herbs and spices and a good amount of EVOO, on 200’C.
- In a large wok, put the chopped onion in some hot oil together with the finely chopped garlic and chili flakes. Sautee until the garlic is golden.
- Add the salmon, with the broccoli florets and the chopped green beans. If you have been cooking the salmon in the oven, pour the juices/oils from the fish into the pan as well. If the salmon has skin on, it should stick to the foil when you come to flake the salmon so no need to remove before cooking. Cook on low heat for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the broccoli has slightly softened and the salmon has cooked.
- Cook a pasta of your choice in a separate saucepan, to your liking, in salted and oiled water. Drain and combine with the contents of the salmon pan.
- Stir well, adding EVOO as you go along, with extra chili flakes and pepper if you desire.
- (Optional). Add a splash of full fat milk and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese if you want the dish to be richer. Stir until distributed evenly.
- Serve with garlic bread and season with cracked black pepper and a cheese of your choice.
This recipe will serve two hungry humans a generous portion of food with perhaps even some left over for pasta salad the next day. Let me know if you have any takes on classic recipes and how you came about them.