Smoked salmon is one of my top favorite indulgences, along with steak tartare and foie gras.
I love smoked salmon served in the traditional manner, alongside cream cheese with a generous amount of capers and diced purple onions. Warm, toasted bagels are the best, but for me, just about any bread or toast will do, because it’s mostly about the salmon itself.
To serve smoked salmon this way, you need to have a trustworthy source, because there is smoked salmon that is inferior in quality. If I’m having a party or get-together of sorts and want to put out a traditional smoked salmon spread, I buy mine from a company called Mackenzie. I prefer their Scottish salmon.
What bothers me the most about buying smoked salmon is that it is typically sold in 4 ounce packages. Who needs just 4 ounces of salmon? I most often need somewhere between 4 ounces and a whole 2 pound side of smoked salmon, but no one seems to care about my opinion.
Well speaking of little packages of smoked salmon, I happened to have a couple of them leftover from the holidays. They seem to keep forever if you freeze them. My plan is to dice the smoked salmon and use it in a spread, mixed with the fresh ricotta I made recently.
I’ve made many different kinds of spreads using smoked salmon – my most favorite is a warm dip that utilizes both cooked and smoked salmon. It’s absolutely divine. But today I’m just making a rustic spread that highlights the ricotta and the salmon.
This wasn’t the best smoked salmon in the first place, but I had to buy it locally for some purpose back in December, without time to place an online order. Thus my leftover 4 ounce packages.
But I tested it out and even after freezing and thawing, is tastes exactly the same as it did originally, which isn’t great, but it will do for this spread. You could also add some of this diced salmon in a quiche or pasta, but I’d never use this variety for bagels and lox presentation. It’s just doesn’t compare to the real stuff.
So here’s what I did to make this ricotta and smoked salmon spread. It’s more of a guide than a recipe, because it depends how much you want to make. The way I make it, without diced onions included, it will store in the refrigerator until you want to serve it again. I don’t personally feel that chopped onions keep well, but you could sprinkle the spread with freshly chopped onions or chives if you wish.
If you make this spread and have some left over, add it to hot, cooked pasta. Then there would be no waste!
Ricotta and Smoked Salmon Spread
Home-made ricotta or store-bought, at room temperature
Whipped cream cheese or regular, at room temperature
Smoked salmon, diced
Capers, well drained
Diced purple onion, optional
Chopped chives, optional
Place about equal amounts of the ricotta and whipped cream cheese in a medium bowl.
Beat it together with a spoon until combined.
Dice the salmon and add it to the cheeses. I used this salmon.
Then add the capers.
Gently mix everything together until evenly distributed.
Then you have a choice. You could fill up a pretty crock or bowl with this mixture, or mold it in a bowl lined with plastic wrap for a prettier presentation (although I usually add a little butter to these mixtures so they mold better). In this case, I simply grabbed the whole mixture with my (clean) hands and formed a ball with it. I placed the ball on a wooden board.
Then I sprinkled chopped chives over the top.
Today I served torn up pieces of naan with the spread.
I also included a few garlic-stuffed olives for fun.
I served a sauvignon blanc along with the spread and bread, nice and chilled.
Any kind of bread or toasts, or even good crackers could be substituted for the naan.
An important thing to note is that this spread must be served at room temperature. If the spread needs to be refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature prior to serving. Flavors are just enhanced at room temperature, plus it makes the spread smoother for spreading on the bread.
note: This post is not a tutorial on smoked salmon. There are so many different varieties of hot- and cold-smoked salmon, and their resulting textures are very different. Then there’s lox and gravlax, which are also different. Just taste them all and figure out which ones suit different purposes, because they all have a place.