There is nothing very Italian about this dish apart from the use of pasta, but it was a super dish to make for a crowd on Sunday. It can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake. It's the second time I have made it, the first time I found it a wee bit bland so this time I added a big handful of parmesan to the sauce and a pinch of chilli flakes, this gave the dish more flavour. It's a recipe I found on the Good Food website. I doubled the recipe for 8 people, there was enough for seconds and two of us had leftovers for tea last night.
300g broccoli, cut into large florets
25g plain flour
8 sundried tomatoes (preserved in olive oil), drained and thickly sliced
2 tbsp small capers (optional) rinsed to remove excess salt or vinegar
8 anchovy fillets, halved (optional)
10 large fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
4 fresh skinless salmon fillets
50g mature cheddar , finely grated
A handful of parmesan cheese and a pinch of chilli flakes (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 190ºC and get out an ovenproof dish (measuring 20 by 30cm, and about 5cm deep). Meanwhile, put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta. When it is boiling rapidly, tip in the pasta with a generous sprinkling of salt. Give it a stir, return to the boil and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli, then return the water to the boil and cook for 4 minutes more, until the broccoli is on the firm side of just tender. Drain well.
While the pasta is cooking, put the butter, flour and milk in a large pan and heat, whisking or stirring continuously, until it thickens to make a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone, parmesan and chilli flakes (if using) sun-dried tomatoes, capers (if using), anchovies (if using) and basil, then add the pasta and broccoli and season well.
Halve the salmon fillets widthways (you will see that there is an obvious divide on each fillet) then place the pieces in a single layer on the base of the ovenproof dish. Spoon the broccoli mixture on top, then scatter with the grated cheddar. (You can chill this for up to 4 hours if you want to get ahead.)
Bake for 30 minutes until the mixture is just starting to bubble round the edges and the mixture is pale golden - don't let it go too dark or the fish will overcook.