About a year ago I was flicking through a selection of baked pasta recipes and amongst them was one for salmon pasta. This inspired me to create a salmon pasta dish of my own. The result was such a hit that it has often been requested since. I was rather challenged when I decided to post about this, as I tend to cook by nose and am shoddy at making exact measurements. So this time I tried to pay attention to what I do, and created a set recipe. I use buttermilk which means you can use less cheese in the sauce, thereby cut calories and give the dish a nice tangy flavor.
200g of lightly smoked salmon fillet
400g penne or fusilli pasta
100g little Rosa tomatoes
300g baby leeks, thinly sliced
100g frozen peas
2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
½ an onion, thinly sliced
Zest of two lemons, juice of one
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
150g cheddar cheese, split use
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1 teaspoon of oil
A knob of butter
A sheet of tinfoil
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
Heat a large pan on the stove and put in the oil and a knob of butter. Fry the onion till it goes transparent, then add the leeks and celery and cook until soft, but do not brown as this will make the dish bitter. While this is cooking, wrap the salmon in a tinfoil parcel and bake in the oven for 10 -15 minutes. Remove the fish and cool. Put the leeks and onions in a bowl.
In a small saucepan melt the 40g of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook gently for a minute, add the 50ml milk. Whisk in quickly so that no lumps form. When it starts to thicken add a little of the buttermilk to thin it. Whisk for about ten minutes, slowly adding the rest of the buttermilk. If it gets too thick add some more milk or water. You want quite a thick white sauce. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest and the juice of one lemon to the sauce. Add 50g of the cheddar and whisk in. Add the cayenne pepper. Taste for seasoning. It will be tangy and sour, but will be tempered by the other ingredients.
Cook your pasta in salted water. I boil the kettle to get instant hot water. Cook till the pasta is al dente and not too soft as it will cook more in the oven. Drain your pasta and add back to the pot. Flake the salmon into flakes and add to the pasta, discarding any skin. Add the tomatoes, peas and leek and onion mixture to the pasta and pour over the sauce. Mix it all together well. Place the pasta into a large baking dish, top with the remaining cheese and bake for half an hour in a 180 degree oven till golden on top. This dish needs nothing more than a great green salad to accompany it.