I know it doesn’t look appetising, but trust me, it was delicious. Squid ink pasta, rocket pesto, salmon, tomatoes, mint. This is how my flatmate and I came up with the recipe… And how you can repeat it at home!
One sunny Saturday, I was working at home (on a personal project, don’t freak out) and decided that all work and no play… Well you’ve seen the movie. (No? Here’s a helpful IMDB link for you.) so I persuaded my flatmate to go for a walk. This recipe is a direct consequence of that walk.
We live in Fulham, and headed west, mostly because i had already headed east on an earlier foray. Parsons Green is lovely! But that day, we headed to Chelsea. After several blocks of total quietness, we discovered a deli. A proper italian deli. It’s called Luigi’s.This is where it is.
And it looks even better inside.
This place has wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling food. It is an italian food lover’s inferno… You will never be able to cook and eat everything in there. But you really really want to.
They have about 5 bookcases’ worth of pasta. Just pasta. Mafaldine, orecchiette, strofie, linguini, tagliatelle, pasta tricolore… and tagliatelle al nero di seppia, and al zafferano. Neither of us could resit getting something a bit weird to eat. The squid ink pasta came back with us. As we were about to leave, some rocket pesto and mortadella just jumped into our arms. Really. They did! (They were delicious, too)
After some more exploring, we started to walk home, pondering what to have the pasta with. If you’ve ever had squid ink pasta, you will know it has a noticeable flavour. Neither of us even considered meat for it. But seafood? That could work. The simplest thing to find was salmon. There was a Sainsbury’s on the way. All good. We were almost there!
Both of us though felt like something was missing. I suggested we go home and consult the flavour thesaurus we both own a copy of, then paused. Despite my deep-seated dislike and disapproval of the current licensing and distribution model for publishing as far as books and ebooks are concerned… I had bought the ebook edition too, for precisely these circumstances.
So we sat on a bench, I whipped out my iPhone, launched the kindle app, and did a search for “salmon, rocket, squid ink”. Nothing came up. I tried “squid ink” alone. Nothing. “Rocket”. Some results. Then we both paused and thought “salmon”! We scrolled through the table of contents, found “fatty fish” and shortly after discovered that mint can bring out the flavour.
After some discussion, we agreed to add some tangyness using tomatoes as well. A recipe was born.
So what does it take to make this little dish?
- Salmon fillets – Cook them in the oven, wrapped in aluminium (à l’étouffée) for a rich, juicy flavour. Put some olive oil and cover it in rocket pesto for extra flavour. Cooking takes a good 15min. Alternatively, cook them in a pan for about 5min, just be careful not to burn them. I removed the skins before cooking. I dislike fish scales in my food.
- Tomatoes, cut into half-moons. We added these into the cooked and drained pasta at the same time as the pesto.
- Rocket pesto – Toss it on top of the hot, just-drained, pasta along with the tomatoes. Yum!
- Fresh mint – Chop it up and add it to the mix alongside the tomatoes and pesto.
- Squid ink pasta – to boil. This takes about 3 minutes if it’s fresh pasta, so do it last. Boil the pasta, drain it, put it back into the pan while it’s still hot (ready for dressing, like a salad). Swirl the pasta well to cover it with pesto, tomatoes and mint.
- It’s ready to eat.
- Put a salmon fillet on top of each portion and non-vegetarian dinner is served!