Penne with Salmon & Arrabbiata Sauce


I was cooking for just myself tonight and took a portion of organic salmon out of the freezer in the afternoon to defrost. I eat salmon about once a week. Partly because I love it and partly because it’s a great source of healthy fish oils. I do always buy organic though as some of the farmed salmon isn’t great – pretty tasteless and full of not so healthy additives.

I usually cook it fairly simply but fancied trying something a bit different today. I came across a recipe for putting it into an arrabbiata sauce to serve with pasta in Gino D’Acampo’s Italian Escapes. Salmon is a robust fish able to take strong flavours, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Arrabbiata means ‘angry’ in Italian. The sauce is thought to gain its name from the chilli that goes into the dish, making it hot … heated and perhaps ‘angry’! Gino has a classic combination of chilli, garlic and tomatoes. Some recipes add wine. I decided to begin my sauce with a shallot, finely chopped, and softened in some extra virgin olive oil with a good pinch of dried chilli flakes.


Once the shallot was softening, I added a crushed clove of garlic (I don’t like to add this too soon or it can go bitter if it starts to brown) and a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes. I use fresh tomatoes in pasta sauce a lot, but with this sauce, I think it really benefits from the strong, full flavour you get from tinned tomatoes.


I stirred it all together, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then brought to simmer and left to cook for about 10 minutes. (It was enough sauce for 2, so when it was ready, I took half out to freeze for another day.) While it cooked, I prepared the salmon, taking off the skin and cutting it into bite-sized pieces. I also chopped a handful of flat-leaf parsley. Then I added both to the tomato sauce.


Give it a careful stir to mix the salmon into the sauce. Let it bubble up again and then turn the heat off and put a lid on. This is the best way to cook the salmon so it stays moist and tender. It will cook perfectly well from just the heat of the sauce (this is what Gino does!).


Now cook the penne (or other pasta). When it’s ready, strain and add to the sauce.


Stir is all together very carefully so that you don’t break up the tender salmon pieces. Then it’s ready!


All you need do now is transfer it to a plate or shallow dish.


I served it with a side green salad. Don’t be tempted to grate Parmesan over it. Italians don’t serve Parmesan with fish pasta dishes. It was a lovely dish; really tasty. The salmon took the slightly fiery arrabbiata sauce well, retaining its own gorgeous flavour. The fish pieces were wonderfully tender and moist from the gentle cooking. A dish I’ll certainly do again!

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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