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Friday 6 November 2009

Rigatoni with Smoked Salmon and Courgettes

I feel like I should subtitle this post 'Dispelling Food Myths'.

In fact, I'm going to.

Dispelling Food Myths

I hate the term 'Foodie'. I hate it for a plethora of reasons, and could write for hours about each and every one of them. I'm not going to, simply because I myself am what you might possibly, according to some people's definitions, call a bit of a Foodie, and I'm not in the mood for a written exercise in public self-loathing.

I think my main gripe with the term is that when I think of a Foodie, I think of somebody with that vile, despicable and hateful 'I-know-more-about-food-than-you-do' attitude which is so prevalent in certain circles (and that you seem to find in restaurant review columns in Sunday newspaper supplements).

I'm embarrassed to say that I have in the past shown evidence of this way of thinking myself. When I became a food obsessive (at around the age of twenty-one, if anybody's interested, though we can talk about that another time. And yes, that is my preferred term!), I started to read cookery books as thought they were great novels. I'd go to bed and read about food cultures that I'd never heard of before, and dream about tastes and smells of dishes from across the globe. And I started to think of what I'd read as facts. After all, if something is published in a book, it ought to be well-researched. Right?

Thus in Japan, diners are expected to start a meal always with a sip of the miso soup. When eating a Swiss fondue, you must never drink anything carbonated with it, for fear of indigestion. And Italians never add cheese to pasta with seafood.

Francesco shot that last one down in flames recently. He made this amazing pasta for us when he came to stay last, and when I remarked, during the preparation, that it was unusual to add parmesan to a fish dish, he said he'd never heard that said before. And that he often did. And in one fell swoop my food world fell apart.

OK, I'm making this more dramatic than it was, but in all seriousness, I was surprised. I have read about the cheese and seafood thing countless times, in so many different books by lots of different writers (though I have a sneaking suspicion that all the authors are quoting the same source, and I think it's Anna del Conte: I'm going to have a little check).

Anyway, the point is, Foodies and Foodie Knowledge are annoying! And they can be wrong. So there. Eat what you want how you want it. It's all good in this game called food. And thus, in the spirit of this new finding, I have resolved never again to tell Mr. Other P not to put ketchup on his pizza. I'm not putting it on mine though.

I have digressed. This was meant to be about pasta!

Quick summary -

This pasta is incredibly delicious, and was invented by Francesco. Reasons you should make it:
  • most salmon pasta dishes have cream sauces, and this doesn't;
  • it dispels a food myth;
  • you can feed four hungry people really well for less than a fiver;
  • you will use the blender. Everybody likes the blender;
  • because I told you to.

Rigatoni with Smoked Salmon and Courgettes

You will need:

500g rigatoni, or other tubular pasta. Penne would be fine.
1/2 an onion, diced very finely (you could grate it - chopping that finely is a nightmare)
100g smoked salmon, chopped finely (you can use trimmings; they are cheaper)
2 large courgettes
vegetable stock
white wine
75g parmesan (we used pecorino Romano, but only because of my Rome trip), grated

  1. Cut the courgettes into four chunks each. Place in a pan of simmering stock and cook gently until tender, around 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sweat the finely chopped onion in olive oil, adding a little wine (or some of the stock) from time to time, to help it soften. After about 10 minutes or so, you should have a nicely softened mixture. Turn the heat up, and add the salmon. Cook briefly, until it just changes colour. Set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta, according to packet instructions.
  4. Put the drained courgettes in the blender with a little of the stock. Blitz to a vibrantly green purée. Add two-thirds of the cheese and blitz again.
  5. Drain the pasta, and dress with the courgette mixture and salmon and onions.
  6. Serve in warmed bowls with the remaining cheese.


  1. wow this looks fantastic! I had Salmon last night not like this wow!!

  2. You had us giggling out loud reading this. "Foodie" does sound so snooty, but look, you have a food blog. You cook amazing food. And, you don't put ketchup on your pizza. Sorry to break it to you, but you ARE a foodie.
    ps Our 6-year old puts ketchup on his pizza. What does that say about the OTHER Mr. P???

  3. hahaha I have to admit I have definitely used the term foodie but now your post has made me feel embarrassed about it. I guess us obsessive food..ers need to come up with a more well rounded term! Love the pasta, it sounds delicious with the smoked salmon.

  4. I've always felt funny about the word "foodie" as much as I hate the term "LMAO" or people who pepper their dialog with French phrases.

    If you have not already seen it, please watch the beginning of this 30 Rock's episode as it's very : http://www.eatmedaily.com/2009/10/cheesy-blasters-on-30-rock/

    This is a great recipe, btw. It reminds me of a post I just read on dispelling the red-wine-with-fish no-no. Very good stuff!

  5. Don't worry, "foodie" is low end, not snooty ... I heard the term "foodist", those are the snooty ones! ;)

    Salmon trimmings is my trick! I put it on my bagel with cream cheese ... I live in NYC, what do you expect from me? ha ha ...

  6. I must not be a foodie...surely not a foodist....I had to look up courgettes....now that I know, great recipe....

  7. How about '5 Star Foodie' - i suppose that's even snootier than just a 'foodie' :) I love the pasta with smoked salmon, it sounds amazing with parmesan & courgettes!

  8. Seafood and cheese it is! If this recipe is against the "rules", then I am completely in favor of breaking them.

  9. I'm loving the dialogue I have created! Foodie Rebellion!

  10. About the parmesan/seafood thing - I just know that my italian ex and his family looked at me as if I had killed a baby in front of them when I went to put parmesan on a frutti di mare pasta type thing. But it might be regional?
    BTW it's me, Julia! Hooray for you!

  11. Vegetable Matter - I hate it though. We need a new term. Thoughts please! :)

    Joy - I like 'Fooder'. That's good!

    Mae - I don't actually know what LMAO means. I have tried and tried to figure it out. Do I have to google it? :) I pepper my conversation with French phrases quite often by the way. I'm serious. But I won't do it here! Promise.

    Jen - I am a complete convert to the trimmings. It's the same freakin' thing, just handily ready chopped. What's not to like?

    Drick - I forget my international audience might not understand my British-isms... Sorry!

    CC - Like I said. Food rebellion!! :0

    Julia - Welcome to Delicious Delicious Delicious! You must come back. And I actually love baby-killing moments of tension that could be cut with a knife... So I'd have done it again if I were you. (If you read that back, it sounds like I say I love baby killing. Not true!)

    Sophie - Did you make the pear butter yet? I wanna see! :)

  12. Hi there couldnt find and email address but thought you might like this post you mentioned my fav cookie of all time


  13. i wanna try cooking pasta one day.. all these while i have been doing spaghetti ... and u know what.. i love salmon too!! goes well with some lemon dash on top, wrapped up with aluminium foil and baked it!! delicious, delicious, delicious!!!

  14. This sounds great! I always like dishes without a cream sauce!

  15. Your pasta dish sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  16. *Gasp* I didn't know Italians put cheese on their seafood either! What do I know I guess?

    I love your post Mr P., I laughed my way through it from my phone last night and wanted to come back today and leave a comment.


  17. But I thought 'Foodie' was the snobLESS answer to....Gourmet!? Now Foodie is snobby? Perhaps I can just say, 'I like to cook and eat'?:)

    I gotta tell you, I still think there is some merit in the whole no cheese with seafood thing, but it's just not that cut and dry. At a yum cha once, I was offered oysters, under a hot bubbling mass of melted cheese. It seemed incredibly UNChinese, it seemed incredibly Untempting for me, so I declined, but they were lapped up by others. I do agree that it is personal preference, rather than a 'rule', and this pasta of yours IS a tempting preference Mr P:)

    You are such a great writer:D

  18. Why sank you. Do you know this lady by the way? She is the best ever (with the exception of your good self, of course).


    And her recipes rock beyond all belief.

  19. Aw man... i totally use LMAO .. actually i use ROFL more so -- I am suddenly beginning to doubt my internet lingo -- perhaps its time for an update?

  20. Just found your blog and am enjoying it! I hear you on "foodie." I use it in a self-deprecating way because I haven't found a better term yet! Glutton and pig-with-over-sensitive-tastebuds don't work, and gourmand is even worse! Even though foodie has negative connotations, I just like to use it loosely to describe someone who loves and is passionate about food and learning more about it. Foodophiliac?

  21. I have never baked in stilettos. Respect, girlfriend!


That's what he said.

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