At the end of my last term at university, I had an abundance of frozen food to use up. Throughout the year I’d gradually accumulated a variety of frozen veg bags – peas, sweetcorn, spinach – as well as frozen white fish and salmon. (With these, on top of my bread, wraps, blackberries, meal portions, and beanburgers, I’d actually managed to break the door of my section of the freezer. What can I say? The freezer is an invaluable part of my life. So I should probably treat it better.)
So, wanting a quick dinner fix, I turned to my trusty friend. I also had plenty of pasta and garlic, and half of a lemon cling-filmed in the fridge. This was the result:
The surprisingly satisfying feature of this impromptu meal was the textures of the slightly chewy salmon, balanced with the similarly tender courgette and spinach. The lemon set the fish off well with a citrus zing. The garlic and the chilli gave the dish a bit of a kick, and brightened up the undeniable plainness of the frozen spinach. (I buy the stuff for the sake of ease; fresh spinach is better, and doesn’t require pressing down with kitchen towels to absorb excess water. But it just won’t keep long enough!) I dished the fish and veg on top of spaghetti, but tagliatelle probably would have been better suited.
I love it when recipes like these are born from a bit of experimental cooking! Here’s how I did it.
You will need:
- half a courgette
- as much frozen/fresh spinach as you like
- a portion of frozen salmon
- a clove of garlic
- chilli flakes
- olive oil
- pasta (to suit your appetite – I had 70g)
- half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Unwrap the salmon, place in tin foil, and squeeze over a little lemon juice. Drizzle over some olive oil, then seal the parcel neatly, but not too tightly – you want excess moisture to escape. Pop in the oven for twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the courgette into pieces of about 25mm – they need to be thin enough to cook quickly, but not too thick, else they’ll require a lot of cutting up as you eat. Finely chop the garlic. Stick the blobs of frozen spinach into the microwave, and defrost.
Take the spinach out to cool down while you carry on, then drain off the excess liquid, and press down with some kitchen roll.
Get a pan of water boiling. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, before throwing in the courgette and frying for about ten minutes, or until the courgette slices have absorbed the oil and are soft and tender. Halfway through, add the garlic – you don’t want to add it too soon, or it will burn. If you want chilli, add the flakes now, to taste. Put the pasta in to cook according to the packet instructions, but make sure it’s still got a bit of bite.
Check that the salmon is cooked: you’ll be able to tell if it is visibly flakey when you cut inside. Leave it to cool.
Add the spinach to the courgette, and flake the salmon over the top. Squeeze lemon juice over it all, and season with salt and pepper if you like. Drain the pasta, and add the fish and veg on top.