This recipe was inspired by a pasta dish I had in Venice. It was tagliatelli with salmon in a cream sauce (see the inspiration?). It lacked something. The salmon didn’t have much flavor, and the sauce was pretty bland, without even the usual Italian suspects: garlic, onion, celery, tomato. I asked the waitress for some parmesan, and she looked at me, shocked: “Il pesce non si mangia con il formaggio!” Ok, I KNOW fish isn’t eaten with cheese, but let’s be frank here, there wasn’t much fish in there. And it needed SOMETHING.
This recipe uses smoked salmon. We cook it. I know, I know, heresy. I really like smoked salmon, but sometimes I find it too smoky. Too salty. Too strong. Cooking it makes it softer and less smoky. And it’s wonderful cooked like this, with the added punch that comes from cardamom and pink peppercorns.
Double heresy: cheese with fish. I know. But it works here. Especially if you have a bit of peccorino with truffles in it lying around. Wowiezowie, is that wonderful. But just parmesan will do. I don’t know about you, but whenever I have cream and pasta I just HAVE to have parmesan. Or peccorino. With or without truffles.
Go ahead. Live dangerously. Try it--cooked smoked salmon, cream, cheese, all of it. You know you want to.
1 pound / 500 g tagliatelli
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp olive oil (I use oil infused with hot peppers)
4 pods cardomam
2 Tbsp pink peppercorns, plus more to sprinkle on top
1 tsp chopped fennel leaves (or 1/4 tsp crushed fennel seeds) - optional
1 cup / 50 cl light cream or half-and-half
1/2 lb / 250 g smoked salmon, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan or peccorino, plus more to sprinkle on top
- While the water boils for the pasta, saute the shallot and garlic in the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the pasta (I use a wok).
- When the water is boiling, add some salt and the pasta.
- Open the cardomam pods and crush the tiny black seeds and the pink peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. If you’re using fennel seeds, add them too. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use the flat bottom of a glass to crush the spices on a cutting board.
- Add the crushed spices to the garlic and shallot, toss to coat with the oil, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the cream and the fennel leaves (if you’re using them). Stir to blend.
- Add the chopped salmon, toss to coat with the cream, and cook on low heat till the salmon is cooked, then add the parmesan or peccorino.
- When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce. Stir to coat the pasta.
- Serve with additional grated cheese, pink peppercorns and some fresh-grated black pepper.
Serves 4 if the like it and 10 if they don’t.
Note: I know this has cream in it. But in the end it’s not that much per serving. I’ve tried this with low fat creams and cream substitutes, and it just doesn’t work--it curdles when you add the salmon. Ew.
´Nother Note: We´re still on holiday, and internet access is spotty. If you leave a comment, I promise-cross-my-heart to get back to you when I get home. Thanks!