When I was younger, once a week, my mum would make salmon (sometimes with cream cheese and breadcrumbs), new potatoes and vegetables for dinner. It became a dish I begrudged (and maybe why I still wake up on Tuesdays filled with dread), even though I liked/even loved parts of the dish when they came with other essential parts to a dinner. I had no particular reason for my weekly jokes about the dish and realised that when my mum one day altered my version – mixed the broccoli and cream cheese in with pasta – I actually really adored salmon. Thinking dreamily about this dish (who’d have thought after all of that complaining?!) lead me to creating this dinner/lunch full of veg, energy and oily fish greatness.
Now I would eat this particular concoction every day if I could- the cheese is what stops me (as much as I adore cheese I do limit the amount I eat). What does make it so awesome is that it’s so flexible: you can pretty much throw in any vegetables and get a good four or five portions out of this meal! The chilliness can also be adjusted according to your tolerance of spice. It’s so satisfyingly brilliant that this dish can be made into such a nutritious meal and demonstrates in the simplest ways that so many bog-standard ingredients can be substituted for healthier options every single day.
Ingredients | For two chilli cheese fanatics
- 2 salmon fillets
- 140g whole wheat pasta
- 400 ml Alpro Soya Original
- 90g chilli cheese
- 14 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 broccoli
- 1 orange pepper
- 4 handfuls of spinach
- A well thought-out amount of sweet chilli (see method for explanation)
- A pinch of fine pink Himalayan salts
1. Prepare all of the ingredients: measure out all of the pasta; foil and oil the salmon if needed (or bring out salmon if it just needs grilling); measure out the soya milk into a jug; cut the cheese into thin rectangles; chop the cherry tomatoes into four pieces; chop up the broccoli; chop the pepper into small squares/rectangles; get out the spinach; chop up half a sweet chilli into teeny tiny blocks; test a piece of the sweet chilli to determine the spiciness and how much you want to use; retrieve the salt.
2. Follow the salmon fillet instructions. *I am likely to choose salmon fillets that I oven cook but if I am to grill the salmon I will start grilling the salmon when I pour the pasta into the boiled water!* Place the foiled salmon into the preheated oven and begin to boil the water for the pasta.
3. Bring a smaller pan of water to boil and add and boil broccoli. Add pasta to the first pan of boiled water and cook.
4. After turning on a hob to a low temperature pour quarter/half of the soya milk into a big pan and stir frequently (be very cautious of it not burning!). Continue to add milk until it’s used up.
5. Heat a frying pan with some kind of light frying liquid/spray. *I will be using Fry Light sunflower oil.* After a minute or so add the tomatoes and peppers and stir often.
6. One by one add and stir the cheese into the milk and it should turn the milk into an orangey kind of colour. Add the chilli at your discretion and stir in. Test the flavour all throughout depending on how milky/spicy you want it.
7. Drain the broccoli and leave to one side. Add spinach to the tomato and pepper pan and stir whilst watching it shrink. Add as much as you like before adding the broccoli.
8. Add a little sprinkle of Himalayn salts to the milky sauce and stir. Taste and then add until you are happy.
9. Heat and stir everything until the pasta and salmon is cooked. Turn off the veg pan and add to the milky sauce, stir and leave while you turn off the pasta and the oven/grill, drain the pasta and serve up onto two pasta dishes/plates. Cut up the salmon into flaky bits and stir into the two pastas. Turn off the milky sauce and stir into the dishes.
Chilli cheese is just about my favourite thing; it can be found in a lot of supermarkets and you can easily adjust your spiciness when considering which spicy cheese to choose. I once chose a sweet chilli lime cheese which was a nice addition! I sometimes add a bit of chilli powder whilst being careful because, although I have started appreciating spice more, I am no spice warrior.
When I first made this I used “yellow” pasta, cream for the sauce and table salt for flavour. I realised quickly I could substitute these for healthier options. I find whole wheat pasta far more delicious and will for ever use that as a substitute. Despite the fact cream does make for a better consistency the milk brings a delicious flavour to it all; it’s a super tasty substitute to cream and great for cooking with. I heard about pink Himalayan salts earlier this year and recently (finally!)picked some up. Its benefits are awesome, including less sodium than the average processed salt. Upon googling you can easily find some health benefits that come from this pretty salt.
Despite the cheese in this dish, last night I read an awesome blog post by Deliciously Ella (follow THIS LINK to read!) that brilliantly puts the message out that it’s totally fine, for example, to have cheese in my lifestyle. I have always believed what Ella wrote about healthy living not being a diet but a lifestyle, and it’s totally cool to have something like cheese in our lifestyle- it’s all about balance!
When making this for the second time, I did learn a lesson that has burned into my brain. Despite having washed my hands a couple of times after handling the chillies and chilli powder (even after the meal was finished and washed up!), I made the fatal error of listening to Adele and passionately duetting with her in my bedroom. Tears were shed at our performance and I wiped my eyes… I set fire to my eyes. Take note.
~ Kat ~