Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Food swap - pasta with salmon and capers paste from Pantelleria

Manu from the beautiful Cooking Manu blog had the great idea of hosting a food swap for bloggers and non-bloggers alike.
I was partnered with Silvia (co-incidentally Manu's sister in law) who is based in Milan, Italy.  I sent her some local Devon wholegrain honey mustard.  I'm intrigued to see what she comes up with for that!
She sent me something new to me - capers paste.  It's from Pantelleria which she explained is an island in Sicily.  (There's a very interesting post about why capers from that region are so special here.)
Now, I was supposed to have posted a recipe using her ingredient by the 31st March but with typical 'Ruth-time' I'm just a little bit late - oops!
I played with various ideas in my head before deciding to use it in a fairly simple pasta dish.  As I'd never used it before I wanted to get a feel for the strength and depth of flavour first time round.

This made a large meal (with leftovers) for 2.

1 bag fresh pasta
2 salmon fillets (mine happened to be hot smoked ones with peppercorns)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic*
1 tsp+ dried basil
1tsp+ dried oregano
1tbsp+ capers paste (pasta di capperi)
Handful calabrese florets
Handful wild garlic (ramsons) leaves*
Little grated strong cheese, if liked
Black pepper
*Use less garlic if you're not a fan.  I am so it tends to go in everything!

Heat a splosh of EVOO over a low heat in a decent size frying pan.
Finely mince the garlic and add to the pan once the oil is warming up.
Finely chop the onion and add it to the pan.  Sweat down for several minutes.
Get a large pan of water boiling for the pasta.  Once it comes to the boil add a generous pinch of salt and the pasta.  Fresh pasta generally only takes 3-4 minutes so keep an eye on the time.
Add the herbs to the onion pan and stir well.  If you feel the mix is drying out now or at any point you may want to add a little water - nab some from the pasta pan if so.
Add the capers paste a little at a time, stirring in well each time and giving it a minute to cook in then tasting.  Bear in mind that the plain pasta will soak up a lot of flavour.
Drain off the pasta once it's done, reserving a little of the cooking water.
Cook the salmon fillets in the pan with the onions and garlic, flake them up as they cook through.
Throw in a handful of calabrese cut into small florets and 4 or 5 minced ramson leaves.  Add a little of the pasta water now to steam the veg.
Grind in black pepper to taste and stir into the pasta.  Add a little grated cheese if liked, I felt the dish needed that extra flavour to balance the salty umami notes from the capers and the strength of the garlic.
Serve and enjoy.
 This was delish and gave me a good idea of how the capers paste works in a dish.  It certainly has a big flavour but also seems invaluable for the umami notes.  I can see this having an incredible affinity with good tomatoes and black olive tapenade on some fantastic bread...Mmmmm...


  1. Oh Ruth that's so yummy!!!
    I'm happy you enjoyed it.
    Have a great afternoon

  2. I forgot...on my blog you can see all the pictures and Silvia's recipe too.

  3. Ooh - I must check out what everyone made! I enjoyed it immensely - I hope you do it again? xxx

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