Posts Tagged ‘Family Dinner Night’

DSC02920Dinner…what to do, what to do…hmmm.

Nearly ever week I find myself asking my little family, “What do you want for dinner”?

More often than not…my husband and two children say…”Salmon Pesto Pasta, please!!!”

Salmon Pesto Pasta is  almost more popular in our house than homemade pizza. No. Really. It is. And, what cracks me up, is it’s a recipe I threw together one evening after opening the fridge and discovering, with utter frustration, that I had about a 1/2 lb of cooked salmon leftover from our Wednesday Family Dinner night.

Wednesday Family Dinner night is a tradition we started in our home when our eldest daughter was about a year old. The concept was simple: every Wednesday night, without fail, my husband’s mother, brothers, sister, and extended family were invited over for a meal. The intention was simple too: bring everyone together once a week so our daughter would get to know her extremely large family and vice versa. 

In the beginning, it was all a bit awkward. Everyone wanted to bring something or wanted to lend a hand or felt they had to do act like a guest at a dinner party but, in time, we settled into a lovely routine that turned a “hump-night-meal” into something very special…family time.

Salmon Pesto PastaMy mother-in-law, who’s now nearly 90, adores salmon. For her, I try to make it at least two Wednesday nights a month. The first time I made Delia Smith’s Salmon Fillet with Pesto and Pecorino, I knew I was on to a winner. Not only did Mama eat her serving but she asked for seconds! And, what’s more, everyone else liked it too. From that night on, the dish became a favourite “go-to-recipe”.

But then there was that one Wednesday night when I over-bought and ended up with too much leftover salmon in the fridge. Unwilling to throw it out on Thursday night, I started playing with ingredients…a bit more pesto…a bit more pecorino…throw in some Cannellini beans and some oven roasted tomatoes…and voila…a new dish was born…Salmon Pesto Pasta. My little family loved it. The test, however, was Wednesday Family Dinner night…would everyone else like it?

Without exception, the answer was…”Yes!”

I still remember the first time I brought it to the table. It was a beautiful spring day…the salmon was served in a big white bowl, with a lush green salad and some crusty garlic bread on the side. “What’s this, Kim?”, my sister-in-law asked. Before I had a chance to answer, I heard someone say, “Wow! This is gorgeous!!” That’s all it took. Salmon Pesto Pasta was created from a “waste not want not” belief but it’s staying power is all in its taste.

I’ve since figured out how to make this dish from scratch, not using leftovers. I’m sure you’re going to love it. With Lent coming up it’s the perfect Friday night meat-free meal, but it’s also just right for any family dinner night. Make it and let me know how you get on or what changes you’d make. Cheers!

Salmon Pesto Pasta

Serves 6-8


1lb/16oz salmon

2 tablespoons lemon

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons pesto, plus another ¼ cup/2oz pesto {that’s fluid oz.}

2 rounded tablespoons pecorino cheese, plus another 3 cups/3oz

½ lb/8oz Farfalle pasta (bow tie style)

1 cup/4oz frozen peas

2oz oven-roasted tomatoes

1 can/15oz/425g cannellini beans


1. Pre-heat oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8. Line a baking tray with aluminium and top with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Rinse the salmon, pat dry with kitchen roll (paper towel), and, if needed, remove any bones you can feel when you run your hand across the top of the salmon.

3. Put the salmon on the parchment paper and pour the lemon juice over it.

4. Salt and pepper, as desired.

5. Top the salmon with 3 tablespoons pesto and 2 tablespoons pecorino.

6. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked all the way through.

7. While the salmon is baking, cook up the pasta as per the directions on the box.

8. Cook up the frozen peas. {Tip: I do this in the same pot as the pasta, towards the end of the pasta cooking time.}

9. When the pasta is al dente, drain, and put in a large mixing bowl.

10. When the peas are cooked through, drain, and add to the mixing bowl.

11. When the salmon is done, let it cool slightly, shred with two forks, add to the mixing bowl, discarding the skin.

12. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, the cannellini beans, the remaining pesto, and the pecorino. Mix well, taste, add more pesto, pecorino, salt and pepper, if desired.

13. Top with a grating of pecorino and serve immediately.

Related Articles:

Delia Smith’s Salmon Fillet with Pesto and Pecorino at https://inanirishhome.com/2013/02/23/salmon-fillets-with-pesto-and-pecorino-topping/

Lenten Challenge: Friday Meat-Free Meal at https://inanirishhome.com/2013/03/01/lenten-challenge-friday-meat-free-meal/

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As St. Patrick’s Day draws near, I’m missing the life my lovely family and I left in Ireland one-and-a-half years ago. Our home in the country is situated between the mountains and the sea. Our daily village traffic jam is only ever caused by farm animals, elegant equestrians or the 184 bus getting stuck around a tight bend. From the upstairs windows of our home we can see a row of trees on a distant hill, which remind me of Africa (imagine elephants walking tail to trunk), and a gorgeous blue line that is the Irish Sea. On occasion, a rainbow will appear in our back garden – a gift like none other.

On warm days, the laundry hangs on a rotating clothes line in the side garden and reminds me of my mother-in-law…how many clothes she must have hung on her own line over the years as she raised her twelve children. Not just for a place for drying clothes, our garden is also a sanctuary, a place where we go to get away from the hubbub of the city, and a place for raising fruits, vegetables, flowers and happy children. In this tranquil space, our girls have the freedom to run like fairies across the expansive green lawn and exhaust  themselves in childhood games of hide and seek or jump high enough on the trampoline to dream of touching the sky.

Our life in Ireland is a busy but respectable one. We don’t find ourselves running crazily from one event or task to the other. Life is just a bit slower in Ireland than America. We have time to call in (stop by) to a friend’s home for a cuppa (cup of tea and a chat) or take a stroll along the pier. I make soda bread or brown bread every week. Dinners are not a rushed stop at the Whole Foods grocery store but whole foods made at home, at my hob (stove) with the younger daughter usually by my side. For tea (dinner time) we sit around the table together and talk about school and work and we give thanks for what we share.

Wednesday nights are always very special: my husband’s extended family join us and the house grows full with granny, aunties, uncles and cousins under one roof. We call this tradition, Family Dinner Night, and it was started when our older daughter was just a baby. The dream was to have her grow up surrounded by laughter, stories and memories that belonged solely to our family. It’s amazing to have three generations sit together every week…year in…year out.

Yes, today I miss our lovely life in Ireland. As Saint Patrick’s Day gets ever more close, I am reflective and thankful for the life we have lived between the Irish Sea and the mountains. I look forward to getting back there in a few months time: to seeing family, friends, the horses, my garden and the trees on the distant hill. Thank you, Dear Readers, for letting me process my melancholy.  Now, anyone for a slice of meringue roulade and a cuppa?

Mixed Fruit Meringue Roulade

Serves 6

4 large egg whites

225g/8oz/1-1/4 cup sugar (caster)

500ml/1 pint/2 cups cream, whipped

450g/1lb mixed fruit, quartered, plus two strawberries halved (for mixed fruit I use bananas, strawberries, pineapple, apples, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi as available and in season)

Extra whipped cream for decorating


1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 150°C/300°F. Line a 30 x 20cm/12 x 8 inch swiss roll tin/baking sheet with parchment paper, extending a little over ends of pan.

2. Beat the egg whites and half the sugar using an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar, continuing to whisk until the meringue forms stiff peaks. To test: lift the beater out of the meringue and turn upside down. If the meringue peak holds its shape you are done.

3. Spread the meringue evenly on to baking sheet/swiss roll tin and bake for one hour.

4. Remove from oven and cool to touch. Turn meringue out on to a clean tea towel. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and allow to cool fully. The meringue may be crumbly.

5. Spread an even layer of whipped cream over the meringue, leaving a 2 inch border on three sides. Sprinkle the mixed fruit over the cream.

6. Starting at one long side, gently roll up the meringue, enclosing the filling. Place roulade, seam side down on a plate or platter. Garnish with dollops of cream and a strawberry. Note: will keep in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

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