I’m a strange kind of supermarket shopper.
Maybe not strange. Quirky perhaps? Certainly not efficient.
You see, I get this urge to walk up and down every single aisle before finishing my shop, ostensibly so I don’t forget anything. (Honestly, because I am a discount shopping marketer’s dream and get suckered in to at least one reduced-stickered item every time).
All this would be fine if my shopping was limited to just one supermarket. Except that, um, mine isn’t.
I only really use the major supermarkets for staples. Soap, paper towels, flour, sugar, chocolate.
Fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs are purchased from the local greengrocer a short walk away.
Chicken is obtained from the chicken shop, in a different suburb. Unless they’ve closed early, in which case it’s obtained from the other chicken shop in the same suburb as the first but a 200m walk away.
Meat is obtained from the meat shop across from the first chicken shop. Unless I want bones for soup or a particular cut of meat only found at an Asian butcher, in which case it’s purchased from whichever Asian butcher has that particular cut of meat.
And sometimes, just to liven things up a little bit, I pop into a farmers market. Or an organic store. Or a luxury food market. Or a different greengrocer.
It was on one such visit to a grocers a little further away from my normal haunts that I stumbled across a 500g packet of smoked salmon for a price that I just couldn’t ignore.
It came home with me accompanied by some ricotta salata and a hankering for some fresh made pasta.
For a while there I was making my family fresh pasta every Sunday. The weather was inclement. I was lonely. I had a lot of free time on my hands.
More than that, I loved the sight of rolled pasta sheets hanging out to dry.
Loved that elastic bite I got with every mouthful.
Loved watching my family polish off every single little bit, leaving nothing for me to take to work the next day.
All that changed after a while and pasta dinners (natch, Sunday night family dinners) disappeared with the pull of time and energy overcommittments.
It seems they were missed.
My father, the omnipresent Big Bite, had been asking me to teach him to make pasta for months.
“Is it easy?”
“The recipe is on my blog and the machine is at your house. Just try it!”
“But maybe you can teach me instead? Like the pizza dough?”
I’d put it off time and time again. Until now.
We pulled out the pasta recipe I’ve been using since I was in high schol food technology.
Flour measured out. Eggs cracked in. Kneading taken care of by my glossy new stand mixer.
Feeding the dough through the pasta roller, I marvelled all over again at how smooth it became after just a few passes.
And then I left him to finish rolling out the dough while I got onto the sauce.
It’s a bit rude to call it a sauce, really, just some ingredients thrown into a pan. But the flavours! Ah!
Nutty burnt butter. Fragrant dill. Smoked salmon that’s hit the heat just a touch so that it’s part cooked and part silky and raw.
A squeeze of fresh lemon and a smattering of lemon zest.
That night I made the dish again for Koji with the additional touch of freshly podded broad beans.
(Add the broad beans if you can. They make it all the more special.)
We ate on the deck. A bowl in one hand, a fork in the other, nattering away as we chewed contentedly.
smoked salmon & dill pasta
enough for four people with sides (or three hungry people by itself)
you will need:
one pasta recipe
250g smoked salmon
ricotta salata (or another squeaky fresh cheese)
500g broad beans
salt & pepper
how to do it:
1. After you’ve rolled out your pasta, leave them to dry as full sheets. Do not cut them up yet.
2. Pull the fronds of dill off the stalks and chop finely. You should have about 1tbsp of finely minced dill (give or take and depending on your dill tolerance). Zest the lemon then cut it into wedges.
3. Cut the smoked salmon into chunks no more than 3cm wide. Shave the ricotta salata (as much as you’d like. It’s a fairly flexible recipe.)
4. Pod the broad beans then place them in boiling water for around 30 seconds. Dump the beans in ice then peel off the white outer layer.
5. Time to cook! Cut the sheets of pasta across it’s length so that it is 5-8cm wide. I just used a pair of scissors and went snip snip snip! Prepare a pot of oiled and salted water and stick it on to boil. Cook the pasta for one minute, or until it tastes good.
6. In a large pan, melt the butter and continue to cook until it is brown and nutty. Toss the cooked pasta, lemon zest, dill, salmon and beans into the pan and take it off the heat. Toss until it’s well mixed through.
7. To serve, dress the pasta with somefreshly squeezed lemon and a cranking of salt and pepper.