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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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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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Photo from Giada at Home Cookery BookLast week’s post on what Irish Catholics eat during Lent was a big hit. Seems there are quite a few of you out there who, like me, need a warm meat-free meal at the end of a Lenten week.

With that in mind, I offer you the following recipe for Pasta Ponza. It comes courtesy of the bright and beautiful Giada De Laurentiis and is found in her cookery book Giada at Home. You’ll forgive me for saying so but I turned instinctively to this particular chef after watching Pope Benedict XVI resign yesterday. The news from Rome and the beautiful images of Italy made me think Italian food seemed appropriate for this Friday’s Lenten Dinner Challenge. Giada herself was born in Italy but was then raised in Los Angeles. Stylistically, she reminds me of our own Rachel Allen.

This recipe is molto bene! Enjoy.

Pasta Ponza

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Unsalted butter, for greasing

2 cups/12 oz red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups/12 oz yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

½ cup/1oz Italian-style seasoned dried bread crumbs

1 pound/16oz ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta

1 ½ cups/8oz grated Pecorino Romano cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

Directions

1. Place an oven rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5. Butter an 8×8-inch baking dish. Set aside.

2. Combine the tomatoes, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat.

3. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture over the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. If needed, thin out the sauce with a little pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

* Note: Photo was taken from Giada De Laurentiis’ cookery book Giada at Home.

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An Irish spring is always full of promise. The days are longer, daffodils dot the roadways with their bright yellow heads, ewes are birthing in fields not too far away, and there are several festive celebrations to carry us right up to summer. The first such event, Pancake Tuesday, takes place today.

IMG_3449Pancake Tuesday, also known in Ireland as Shrove Tuesday, is the Irish version of the widely known Fat Tuesday. It falls just before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians.

As with most things Irish, I learned of Pancake Tuesday from my lovely in-laws. My mother in law and sister-in-law make the lightest of pancakes and serve them up with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of caster sugar. The recipe offered below is simply delicious and the one we follow in our Irish Home.

The custom of making pancakes, which actually resemble French crêpes, stems from the days when an Irish homemaker would rid her larder of eggs, sugar, butter and other dairy products so her family could fast for forty-plus days without temptation. Today Pancake Tuesday is less about theology and more about fun.

Known in Irish as Máirt na hInide, you’re sure to enjoy this sometimes-savoury, sometimes-sweet tradition in your home as much as we do in ours.

Simple Irish Pancakes

Serves Four

Ingredients

1 cup/120gm plain flour (self-raising flour)

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

8oz/200ml milk

1/3 cup/75ml water

4 tablespoons/2oz butter, melted

Directions

1. Sift the flour and salt into a medium size mixing bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and the add eggs.

3. Add the milk and the butter and whisk.

4. Slowly add the water and continue to whisk until you have a thin batter that is free of lumps.

5. Melt some butter in a warm pan and, when bubbling, add a ladle of batter to the pan. Picking up your pan carefully, tilt it in a circular motion to spread the batter around.

6. Return your pan to the heat and allow the pancake to set. When lightly toasted, flip the pancake and allow the second side to turn a golden colour.

7. Remove from heat and cover with cling film (plastic wrap) until the batter is cooked up. Serve immediately, if possible, with one of the following fillings:

Sweet:

Lemon juice and caster sugar

Jam

Nutella

Stewed fruit

Bananas with toffee

Lemon curd

Cream and maple syrup

Savoury:

Chopped ham

Grated or crumbled cheese

Shredded salmon with capers and red onion

Spinach, bacon and mushroom

For more information about Irish pancakes and the Irish tradition of Pancake Tuesday, please visit these websites http://www.joe.ie/home/dumb-it-down/what-is-pancake-tuesday-noseriously-0021257-1

http://www.irishamericanmom.com/2012/02/19/irish-pancakes-for-shrove-tuesday/

http://marriedanirishfarmer.com/2011/03/08/fionns-sweet-carrot-pancakes/

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