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June 8, 2013 / beeandtrumpet

Smoked Trout Pasta Salad

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Having a life-long love of (especially Greek) diners myself, I have taken my son to quite a few.  A Post-Botanical-Garden-Nature-Class lunch date at the rather famous Tom’s Diner a few months back has led to an epic journey to find the ‘right’ kind of diner tuna melt closer to home.  I have gotten rather weary of tuna melts as a result, and was eager to develop something else that a canned-fish enthusiast might really dig.  I have never made a pasta salad quite like this before.  It was a hit at a recent picnic.

I have been trying to use whole wheat pasta the past few months.  It isn’t all totally terrible, but I am not sold on it either.  Barilla is kind-of okay, if you must.  I recently heard a segment on WNYC that made me feel better about returning to regular Italian pasta.  If you are looking for an excuse to abandon gummy whole wheat pasta, you may find it there.

Materials:

  • 1 lb Macaroni (I like Colivita), uncooked
  • 8-10 oz Smoked Trout *see cook’s note, gently separated into large flake
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (homemade, or Helman’s)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 4-5 peperoncini peppers, seeded, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup fennel, fine dice
  • 1 fat handful arugula, finely chopped (a scant 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 a roasted red pepper, very fine dice (optional)
  • sherry vinegar and/or lemon juice, to taste
  • salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  2. While waiting for the water, combine 1/2 cup of buttermilk & 1/2 cup mayonasie in a jar and shake vigorously (or whisk in a small bowl).  Set aside.
  3. Salt your water; it should taste like the sea, I use at least 2 tablespoons of kosher salt  (salting boiling water is advised, it can pit your pot if added cold), then pasta.  Cook al denté (or according to package directions), drain, reserving a 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water & transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Let the pasta cool a few minutes, but while it is still quite warm, pour in your buttermilk mixture and toss to coat.  Allow the pasta mixture to cool while you ready the vegetables and trout.
  5. Check on your pasta.  If it seems sticky, and more buttermilk & mayo in alternating equal proportions with the reserved cooking water.  Continue until you like the texture.  This is not a very creamy pasta salad, but neither should it be sticky. You may need more or less dressing than I have called for to suit your taste.  If you are not serving immediately, but will chill several hours to overnight, keep a little dressing on hand to adjust texture just prior to serving.
  6. When the pasta is cool to room temp (or nearly, or chill if you want to be quick about it), tip in the peperoncini, fennel, arugula & red pepper (if using).  Stir to combine throughly.
  7. Add trout, combine quickly, with as few strokes as necessary to distribute evenly, but not break down the fish overly.
  8. Taste, add a little lemon or vinegar to brighten if desired.  Add more buttermilk/mayo mix, if needed. Add salt & pepper to taste.  Give her a quick stir & you’re there!  Serve, as is or well chilled.  Voliá!

*On smoked trout: buy all means if you can get your hands on a whole smoked trout, use it.  My beloved Rexcroft Farms left my local Greenmarket for greener pastures a few seasons back; I sure miss their trout & and their squash blossoms.  I don’t get an opportunity to use whole smoked trout much anymore.  You can use the vaccumed packed stuff, it’s not bad, but there is a fair amount of picking over for bones to be done, and the result, unlike whole fresh, isn’t so much better than canned to be worth the trouble.  Trader Joe’s sells good quality canned trout alongside the sardines, and kippers – those will do just fine if this is to be a side dish for a crowd.  Sexy intimate picnic dinner for 6 where this gets primo billing?  Go find that elusive fresh-smoked fish.

Cheers!

– M

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One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. lanceblair / Jun 15 2013 4:32 pm

    I like the idea of Fennel and trout…I also recommend Duke’s mayonnaise if one can find it. I never had it until I moved to Atlanta, but it’s wonderful. I find excuses to put it on things, and I don’t usually care for mayo. This sounds like a great recipe for using mayonnaise (especially home made)!

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