Fish fillet a perfect pairing for Italian staple ricotta salata

Grilled Snapper (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Combined ShapeCaption
Grilled Snapper (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Sweet-fresh basil, tomatoes, pasta and hard ricotta cheese (ricotta salata) are staples in Apulia. Apulia, known as Puglia in Italian, is the heel of the boot of Italy.

Ricotta salata is a milky-white hard sheep’s milk cheese. It’s used for grating and shaving.

Orecchiette is a pasta shaped like small round disks or little ears.

Helpful Hints:

— Feta cheese or Parmesan cheese can be used instead of ricotta salata.

— Any type of short-cut pasta such as penne or corkscrew can be used instead of orecchiette.

— To save prep time, buy diced tomatoes from the produce department.

— Green beans can be substituted for the broccoli rabe.

— Any type of fish fillet can be used. Instead of a stovetop grill, the fish can be sautéed in a skillet. Cook it the same amount of time.


— Place water for pasta onto boil.

— Microwave broccoli rabe.

— While waiting for water to boil, cook snapper.

— Finish side dish.

Shopping List:

To buy: 3/4 pound snapper fillet, 1 package orecchiette, 1/4 pound broccoli rabe, 1 container diced tomatoes, 1 package fresh basil, 1 can olive oil spray and 1 small package ricotta salata (1 ounce needed).

Staples: olive oil, garlic, salt and black peppercorns.



Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

3/4 pound snapper fillet

Olive oil spray

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a stovetop grill over high heat. Spray the grill and snapper fillets with olive oil spray. Place fillets on the grill and cook 3 minutes. Turn and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Insert the point of a knife into the flesh. The flesh should be opaque not translucent. Drizzle olive oil over the fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 226 calories (36 percent from fat), 8.9 g fat (1.3 g saturated, 3.9 g monounsaturated), 60 mg cholesterol, 34.9 g protein, 0.5 g carbohydrates, no fiber, 108 mg sodium.


Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

1/4 pound orecchiette (about 1 1/4 cups)

1/4 pound broccoli rabe, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 3 cups)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup ricotta salata, cut into small pieces (1 ounce)

Bring a large sauce pan filled with water to a boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the orecchiette and boil for 10 minutes. Microwave the broccoli rabe and garlic for 3 minutes on high in a bowl large enough to add the pasta. Remove from microwave and add the tomatoes and basil. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 348 calories (29 percent from fat), 11.2 g fat (3.2 g saturated, 4.3 g monounsaturated), 13 mg cholesterol, 12.7 g protein, 49.6 g carbohydrates, 4.9 g fiber, 269 mg sodium.

About the Author