VIRGIN PASTA.

Salmon linguine with white wine and lemon sauce

I wanted to kick-start this blog with the plate of food I always recommend to friends if they consider themselves kitchen shy. The dish is simple, pure, innocent with glimmers of spicy potential – hence why I aptly named it ‘Virgin Pasta’.

The logic behind anointing this meal ‘Virgin Pasta’ is twofold. The first being that the uncomplicated method of constructing this dish is foolproof and suited for any kitchen novice or ‘virgin’. Secondly, I found the natural, clean, fresh aesthetic of the meal encapsulated everything a virgin bride is… or should be. No judgement.

The innocent construction of the cooking process combined with the muted, soft colours of the ingredients allows the pastel rosy meal to gently break in any kitchen virgin that is nervous for their first plate up.

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I began by draining a can of cooked pink salmon. I’m sure fresh salmon would work even better  but I had a 30 minute lunch break and the canned aisle was closer. I then heated up a small amount of olive oil in a deep pan. Once the oil was warm – not at smoking point – I threw in a small amount of chopped white onion.

The aim for the ingredients in this meal is to implement gentle flavours that compliment the soft salmon as opposed to battle it, so it’s important to fry the onions gently on a low heat so that they cook to translucent as opposed to brown. Once the onions had turned a soft silver, I crushed in a clove of garlic for them to also warm up and soften as opposed to brown.

As this meal takes no longer than 15 minutes, it’s at this point I put a small handful of linguine pasta in a separate pan. My method – taught to me by a very good University friend – was to add a small amount of cold water to the bottom of the pan, put on a high heat and then top up with some boiling water from the kettle. It makes sense this trick finds its routes in a lazy student kitchen but I urge you to try it.

 To the pan of garlic and onion I then threw a small amount of chopped fresh red chillies to the mix. While I will say that this is optional  I do urge you try a small amount of chilli. While the majority of the ingredients within the ‘Virgin Pasta’ is attempting to embody the graceful innocence of a virgin bridge, the chilli is there to represent the fiery filthy side that lies within her – so try not to deny her of this passion.

Once the pasta is cooked, I dropped a small ladle-full of the pasta cooking water into the pan of onions as a base note for the sauce and drained the rest in a colander. The starch in the pasta water instantly recognises the starch on the pasta itself and naturally clings to it, allowing each thread of pasta to be sauce covered.

While the pasta drained in the sink, I added the juice of a whole lemon to the pan on the hob as well as half a glass full of white wine. I turned the heat up at this point in order to burn out the top notes of alcohol (the ones that taste like nail varnish stripper) leaving only the fruity bottom notes.

Once the sauce had reached a slight bubbling point I turned the heat down as I didn’t want to boil it and lose all the flavours, I then dropped in the loose pasta strands. This is where I showed off a little and used my ‘Salad Hands’ (Google them, they look hilarious) and began tossing the linguine allowing each strand to get a good coating of the virginal sauce.

I then dropped a big handful into a pasta bowl and scattered small chunks of the drained can salmon across its surface. The salmon on top gives the pasta a slight texture without giving too much bite to the meal, allowing all components to champion one another without being too complicated to both cook and consume.

I also recommend squeezing just a little more lemon juice over the salmon to extenuate a little acidity out of its flavour. Because let’s face it, if the pasta and sauce encapsulates the white purity of the virginal bride, think of the pink fleshy salmon representing the Maid of Honour trying to fight its way to the top with juuuust a little lemony bitterness.

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