From the moment I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to try it. A combination of salmon, chives, lime zest and a cheese I’ve never tasted sounded intriguing. Robiola is an Italian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family. It is from the Langhe region and made with varying proportions of cow’s, goat’s and sheep milk. Outside of Italy, you can pick it up at an Italian specialty store. If you’re not able to find it, you can substitute with ricotta or a mixture of ricotta and mascarpone cheese. You can find the original recipe (in Italian) here. It was the first time I’ve cooked a dish that combined pasta and fish. This dish is so delicious, I was not disappointed! This recipe is fairly simple, quick and easy.
Here in Italy, a country that is surrounded by water, seafood plays a prominent role in the Italian diet. Seafood is everywhere. Every town has a weekly market and one of the highlights of my market visit is buying fresh seafood from the fishmongers. They artfully display their products and the quality is top notch. Italians know their seafood. They know how to spot fresh versus not so fresh seafood. Since moving here I’ve learned a lot on how to choose fish. For example, did you know that when you’re buying a whole fish, if the eyes are cloudy that means the fish is not fresh? As a native Californian who has lived in a coastal town for decades, I often wonder why fish markets are not more common in California and why there isn’t more variety in the local grocery stores. Here the seafood variety seems endless.
Paccheri is a type of pasta in the shape of a very large tube, which comes from Campania. They are generally smooth, but there is also a ribbed version, paccheri millerighe. If you can’t find Paccheri, Rigatoni (which is what I used) will do just fine.
SALMON PASTA recipe
Serves 4, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 20 minutes
Paccheri or Rigatoni (11 oz, 320 g)
Salmon fillet (cubed) – 22 oz, 650 g
Robiola or ricotta cheese – 7 oz, 200 g
Olives – pitted and diced – ⅓ cup, 45g (optional)
Dry white wine – 1/3 cup, 50 g
Garlic – one whole clove
Chives – finely chopped 1 tablespoon, approx 5 g
Zest of one lime
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. While the water comes to a boil, cut salmon fillet into ½ inch cubes. In a saute pan, heat olive oil (just enough so the salmon won’t stick) over a medium flame and add peeled garlic clove. Moving the garlic clove around in the oil for about a minute or two will flavor the oil. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add salmon to the pan, spreading it out evenly and season with salt and pepper. Let the salmon cook (without stirring) for about two to three minutes then add wine. Remove garlic clove. Let the wine reduce and evaporate completely. If you’re adding chopped olives, now is the time to add them. Turn off flame and take the pan off of heat.
Put Robiola cheese in a mixing bowl and add 1-2 ladle fulls of your hot pasta water to the bowl and whisk. The hot water will melt the cheese and create your sauce mixture. Add cheese sauce to the salmon.
By now your water is ready for your pasta. Salt the water and cook pasta according to package instructions. Add the cooked pasta to the salmon mixture. Adjust salt and pepper, add chives, lime zest and mix gently.
By now your water is ready for your pasta. Salt the water and cook pasta according to package instructions. Add cooked pasta to salmon mixture and gently toss. Garnish with extra chives and drizzle with a little olive oil. Buon Appetito!