Light, tangy, sweet and vivid, this salad is just the thing for the coming summer months and, as ever, a real breeze to make. I use to rail against pasta salads, I found them claggy and heavy and generally unsatisfying. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that I what I really disliked was the over generous unctuousness of the mayonnaise that so often features heavily. As soon as you add a light and zesty dressing, it transforms the dish into something nourishing and far, far more delicious. In fact, if you follow that rule (no mayo), most homemade pasta dishes can become a summery salad treat. Simply make up the recipe as usual and then allow it to cool – adding the sauce once both it and the pasta have cooled slightly might be your only concession – before serving, garnished with fresh herbs and a crisp green leaf salad. I’m sure you have your own favourite pasta dishes but I can heartily recommend my Penne with Artichoke Sauce (dress it up with a fine grating of lemon zest and some fresh pea shoots) and my Penne Puttanesca (add handfuls of fresh rocket and extra toasted pine nuts) as good pasta salad alternatives. In the meantime, definitely try this delicious Salmon and Pea Pasta Salad, the dressing is a simple version of the Swedish Dill and Mustard Sauce that you so often eat with Salmon – the sharp punch of mustard and lemon is sweetened with sugar and mellowed with olive oil and the aromatic taste of fresh dill runs throughout. Delicious.
SALMON PASTA SALAD WITH DILL AND MUSTARD DRESSING
400g gluten free fussili or penne pasta
200g cooked salmon, smoked or grilled or even tinned
200g frozen peas
2 sticks of celery
A small bunch of dill
1 tbsp olive oil
For the dressing
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 - 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A small bunch of dill, finely chopped.
Begin by making up the dressing. Stir together the sugar, mustard powder and lemon juice until blended and smooth. Pour in the olive oil, bit by bit, whisking as you go until completely amalgamated. Stir in the chopped dill and season to taste.
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, following the instructions on the packet or using your own judgement – usually 10 – 12 minutes, depending on the brand.
While the pasta is cooking, place the frozen peas in a large bowl, pour over some just boiled water until covered and leave for 3 minutes. Drain the peas and set aside. Trim the ends from the celery and finely chop, flake the salmon, discarding any skin and set aside.
Drain the pasta and place it in a large serving bowl, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and swirl it around just to stop it sticking. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then add the peas, salmon and celery to the pasta. Pour over the dill dressing and toss well. Scatter over the remaining dill leaves and serve or place in an airtight tub and store in the fridge until ready to serve.