(photo: ingredients for our mafalde fish pasta include wild or standard dandelion greens, garlic, onion, salmon, and grouper)
When I speak to my mother on the phone each night (yes, don’t snicker there’s no way around avoiding your Italian mother) she inevitably asks me, “so, what did you make for dinner?” And while I often answer back with a southern Italian classic such as roasted eggplant and pasta XXX, there are nights when I mention an improvised dish inspired by what was available at the market.
The other night I responded to my mother’s question by stating that I cooked mafalde (a wide flat pasta shape with ruffled edges and shape #77 in the Scordo Pasta Challenge
) with wild dandelion greens, onion, garlic, cubed salmon and black grouper, and extra virgin olive oil. My mother’s response went something like this, “ah, typical Vinny dish” meaning while I respect classic dishes I often improvise with weekday meals where I’m driven by 1., what’s available at the market and in our pantry and 2., time!
(photo: salmon and grouper diced into cubes)
(photo: ingredients for our mafalde fish pasta include wild or standard dandelion greens, garlic, onion, salmon, grouper, extra virgin olive oil, and pasta)
(photo: salmon and grouper just added to the greens, onions, white wine, and extra virgin olive oil)
(photo: finished mafalde fish pasta with wild or standard dandelion greens, garlic, onion, salmon, and grouper)
- 1/4 – 1/2 pound of mafalde (we used Colavita’s mafalde and like most Colavita pasta we are impressed with the brand’s value in relation to price point; that is to say, it’s not high end pasta but it’s a terrific value)
- Bunch of wild dandelloin greens (if you can’t find dandeloin greens you can use swiss chard or even spinach)
- 1/2 large onion cut into inch strips
- 3-4 pieces of garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 pound of salmon and 1/2 a pound of black grouper (if you can’t find black grouper, then use any firm flesh fish, but avoid thinner and more delicate fillets like flounder, sole, etc. which will break apart to easily)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch of Italian parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup of good, dry, white wine
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes optional
Begin by grabbing your pasta pot and filling it with fresh, clean, water. Put your flame on medium – high and place your pasta pot on a rear burner. In a large pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and set your flame to medium. Add the minced garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the diced onion and mix well. Cook the onions and garlic for 10 minutes and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Wash the dandelion greens well and cut into 2-3 inch pieces, eliminating the first quarter inch pieces of the stem. Add the greens into the pan with the garlic, oil, and onion. Add the white wine and place a lid on the pan. Set the flame to high and steam down the greens. Turning every few minutes (this process should take about 8-10 minutes). Season the greens, onions, and garlic with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (seasoning in layers is important to many dishes) and reduce the flame to medium. Cube the fish into 1/4-/1/2 inch pieces and season with salt and pepper (right on the cutting board is fine). Add the fish to the pan with the other ingredient, stir well (and gently) and place the lid back on the pan (cook for 10 minutes on a medium flame). Assuming you added the mafalde to the boiling pasta pot your pasta should be done in about 10 minutes.
Strain the pasta and save some of the starchy water. Add the pasta directly to the pan with the condiment or fish/greens and mix well (but gently). Add the chopped parsley, fresh extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of pasta water if your condiment is dry.