Mascarpone Dill Pasta with Grilled Mahi Mahi and Lemon AsparagusPosted: 18 April 2011
Last night I whipped up a delicious dinner. I went on a bit of a cheese-making kick recently when I discovered that both ricotta and mascarpone are ridiculously easy to make and, um, I love cheese. Then, Foodbuzz announced a contest with a prize trip to Italy. Interesting. How could I possibly combine an excess of cheese with an original recipe for Italian food? So easily. So deliciously. Remember when I said the brisket tacos were the best thing I’d ever made? This pasta gives the tacos a run for their money.
The contest is to make a recipe for a meal that would use Barilla tortellini. I wanted to make something that would be yummy with both tortellini or spaghetti. Mostly because I had spaghetti on hand. Obviously I wanted to use some of my homemade cheeses as well. Of all cuisines, Italian is my favorite kind to improvise, create and perfect. We do a lot of Italian cooking and eating in my family which you’ve probably noticed with the homemade ravioli and the sheer quantity of pasta recipes on this blog already. In most cases, I would rather cook Italian at home and not go out for it. Then again, how many really outstanding Italian restaurants are there in Minnesota? There are a few. But not a ton. For cuisine that can be amazingly delicious and easy to throw together, I’m all about creating my own inventions. Until I get to Italy of course. Which will be happening one way or another. Then I’ll leave it to the professionals.
So. I had a fresh container of mascarpone cheese. I had spaghetti noodles and a filet of Mahi Mahi. What to do? Obviously, the answer was to combine these things into a tasty recipe. This recipe was definitely inspired by the traditional Italian combination of salmon in a mascarpone sauce. Although I did combine cheese and fish, I wanted to make it a little more unique. And, easily adaptable for any kind of noodle, including a yummy cheese-and-spinach filled tortellini.
In addition to mascarpone, I used plenty of lemon juice, fresh baby dill, Italian parsley, fresh garlic and shallots in the sauce. The result was a creamy sauce that was light and flavorful. The grilled mahi mahi had a milder flavor than salmon would have, so the flavors in the sauce were really able to stand out. Tossed together with sauteed crimini mushrooms and red onion, the whole dish was really delicious. Maybe almost addicting. Senor just mentioned, “If I saw that on a menu, I’d totally order it.” Excellent. My top critic approves. I definitely want to try this on tortellini sometime, I think the creamy, lemony sauce would compliment a cheese-stuffed pasta pretty well.
I topped off the pasta with a spoonful of fresh mascarpone and a few slices of fresh tomato. For a light, seasonal side dish, steamed asparagus with lemon was perfect. Something about spring and the approaching summer months makes me want to put lemons in everything. So light and crisp!
Mascarpone Dill Pasta with Mahi Mahi
6 oz. pasta noodles
1 cup mascarpone (feel free to buy the prepared kind!)
7 oz. Mahi Mahi (any white fish will work here too)
1 cup crimini mushrooms (or other mushrooms, button or portabella work well)
1/2 red onion
1 garlic bulb
fresh baby dill
fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1 medium tomato
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt, black pepper
I used my wok to create this dish. It really helped to be able to toss everything together quickly and easily.
Start by getting your pasta ready. Boil, drain, and set aside until you’re ready to mix it in.
While the pasta is boiling, prepare your fish filet. Place fish in a skillet or on a grill pan that’s been sprayed with olive oil to prevent sticking. Cook the fish on medium-high heat until cooked through. It should easily flake wtih a fork.
Prepare your veggies and herbs all at once. Roughly chop the mushrooms and red onion. Mince the shallots and garlic by using a hand chopper. (This will save you SO much time!)
Add the olive oil to your skillet or wok and heat on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and garlic, tossing to keep from burning or sticking. Once the garlic starts to brown lightly, add the onions and mushrooms and toss. Make sure to gently toss the mixture every 30 seconds or so to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of your pan.
Chop a few bunches of parsley and dill. Mix the chopped herbs into three-quarters of the mascarpone, saving the rest for topping.
Once the mushrooms and onions are heated through and starting to brown, add the sauce mixture to the pan, turning the heat to medium-low. Squeeze half of a lemon into the pan along with a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper and give a quick stir. Let the onions, mushrooms and sauce simmer on low while you ready the fish.
Place the fish on your cutting board and chop it into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces. Add the fish and your cooked pasta to the skillet. Toss gently to incorporate the sauce and vegetables. Place the cover on your skillet and let the mixture heat over the low flame for five minutes.
Once warmed through, serve immediately. Garnish with an extra spoonful of mascarpone, fresh sliced tomatoes and a pinch of Italian parsley. Serve with a side dish like steamed lemon asparagus or broccoli rabe.