'Oh, that's delicious, may I have the recipe please!'. How many times have you begged that question of a friend or family member after enjoying the first bite of a superb-tasting meal, dessert or morning/afternoon tea?
Often the best recipes are those handwritten gems passed by hand from cook to cook. In this snippet, I'd like to share with you one of those. It followed a meal cooked for me by my dear friend, Christine, a fine cook and food, wine and travel writer.
The recipe originated from San Remo, the pasta company. I love the lightness and fresh flavours in this dish. I've adapted the original recipe to suit my taste buds and added a couple of ingredients (namely lemon and chilli) that introduce another depth of flavour.
You will need about 250g of fresh ricotta. Ricotta, as you know is a soft, unripened fresh cheese traditionally made from whey or skim cow's milk. It has a barely discernible sweet/sour flavour and a fine, moist texture making it ideal for use in a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes. It marries nicely with pasta and vegetables. Loose ricotta is highly perishable and must be eaten within a day or two of purchase. When buying it, ask if you can taste a sample before you buy. A good merchant will oblige. Ricotta should taste sweet and fresh, with no hint of bitterness. Store it in a tightly covered bowl in the coldest part of the refrigerator, away from strong-smelling foods.
Back to the recipe. Pick a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves from your garden, or select 200g baby spinach leaves from the greengrocer. Pop a lemon or two into the market basket, together with a tiny bird's eye chilli. A well stocked larder will always have canned salmon, angel hair pasta, sea salt, white pepper and olive oil on its shelves, and you will need each of these.
I've included my recipe for pasta dough for those who would like to experiment with making pasta from scratch, but store bought angel hair spaghetti is perfectly good in this dish. If you would like to make your own ricotta, it's easy and well worth the effort, as the talented Lorraine Not Quite Nigella demonstrated in her recent blog.
ANGEL HAIR PASTA WITH SALMON, RICOTTA AND BABY SPINACH
350g angel hair pasta
415g can red salmon, drained
250g fresh ricotta
200g baby spinach, rinsed
2-3 tablespoons good olive oil
a dash of chilli oil or a finely chopped birdseye chilli (to taste)
a good squeeze of lemon juice (to taste)
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until it is al dente (should only take two or three minutes for angel hair). Meanwhile, heat the olive and chilli oils in a saucepan or saute pan over a low heat. (Or add a little chopped fresh chilli to the olive oil). Add the salmon to the pan and, using a fork, crush the salmon slightly. Cook for two minutes, allowing the oil and salmon to infuse.
Drain the pasta and return it to the large pot. Working quickly, add the ricotta to the other pan with the salmon and oil, and fold in over a low heat. Finish off the dish by adding the hot ricotta and salmon 'sauce' to the pot of pasta. Stir in the baby spinach. Season with sea salt and white pepper, and squeeze over the lemon juice, to taste. Serve immediately. This quantity will serve four. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container, this dish is particularly flavoursome when reheated the day after preparation.
HOME-MADE PASTA DOUGH
2 cups (350g) continental flour
3 tablespoons fine semolina
2 free range eggs
1 tablespoon light olive oil
3 tablespoons hot water
a pinch of salt to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor/kitchen whiz and mix until dough almost forms a ball. Knead the dough on a lightly floured bench till smooth and springy. Wrap in cling wrap and allow to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes. Divide into even portions and roll each one as thinly as required. Cut to shape using either a pasta machine or a sharp knife. Leave to dry on a clean tea towel for 15 minutes. Cook till al dente. Serves 4-6. Note: This dough is suitable for making a variety of spaghetti, fettucini, lasagne and vermicilli style pasta.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.