Irish Cooking Italian Food

Summer Carbonara, June 2014


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A lovely, light pasta dish that I made last week because there was ricotta open in the fridge and I felt I should use it. I’m glad I did, though, as the combination of the lemony ricotta with the smoked salmon, spaghetti, grilled courgette and herbs made for a really nice sunny-evening dinner. So nice, in fact, that I made it again last night and enjoyed its clean, bright flavours just as much the second time around, even though the weather was not nearly so nice.

The dish reminded me a little of some of the recipes in the Sardinian episode of Ottolenghi’s Channel 4 series on the food of the Mediterranean islands (exquisite telly – watch it on 4oD for some serious summer food inspiration and an hour-long shot of Italian escapism). If you want to bring the dish a little closer to home, however, try it with Toonsbridge ricotta, lots of parsley and the best quality Irish smoked salmon you can find.


Serves 2 – double or triple quantities as required. Great for either a midweek dinner or a fancier meal, depending on how you present it.

Serve it in big, wide bowls with lots of herbs, oil and some nice grilled bread 

Dried spaghetti for two

1 medium courgette

100g top quality smoked salmon

Large handful of mint, basil, parsley and coriander

1 lemon

Good quality olive oil

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons cream

4 heaped tablespoons of ricotta

Boil the spaghetti in lots of well-salted boiling water (remember: go as salty as the Mediterranean sea, according to everyone worth their salt). When the spaghetti is on, slice the courgette into long wide ribbons, using a vegetable peeler. Grill these ribbons for 5 minutes, rub a halved garlic clove over them and drizzle with some olive oil. Grill for another few minutes (until they’re nicely cooked and faintly golden) and take off the heat. Roughly dice all of the herbs and tip them over the courgettes on the grill pan, along with the zest of a lemon, some coarse salt and some more olive oil and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, cream, the juice of half a lemon and about a tablespoon of olive oil until it comes together. Taste it. Add some more lemon juice or zest if you like, along with salt and black pepper. Dice the smoked salmon. Drain the spaghetti, although not entirely. Stir in the ricotta mix. Lift the spaghetti into wide bowls with tongs. Sprinkle the salmon over the pasta (you really don’t want the salmon to cook, so aim for the edges of the bowl) and divide the courgette-herb mix over the bowls, along with more lemon zest, oil and salt. Serve with crusty fresh or grilled bread.

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