Salmon Pasta!

I was all set to bake salmon for dinner but when I saw asparagus and cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator I had this vision of a beautiful spring pasta with salmon torn and tossed in it.  A long long while back a friend had made penne pasta tossed with olive oil, salmon and spinach that is one of my fond food memories.  So I set to recreate that pasta with asparagus, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers.  I am not a big fan of tomato sauce.  In fact, my favorite is garlicky olive oil sauce.  I didn’t have penne so I substituted spaghetti but in the end I felt that spaghetti was a better choice of pasta for this dish.  Each strand was coated in the garlic sauce and it tasted very fresh … light yet satisfying.  Kids loved it and in my (or any, I guess) house that is the meter of success!

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Ingredients:

  • Spaghetti – 1 lb ( I used Barilla’s Protein Plus)
  • Asparagus – 1 bunch
  • Cherry tomatoes – 1/2 cup
  • Red bell pepper – 1 cut into strips
  • Salmon – 6 oz fillets (2) **
  • Garlic cloves – 6
  • Olive oil – 3 tbsp
  • Capers – 1 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes – 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Put water for pasta to boil; heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Pat dry salmon fillets and rub oil, salt and pepper all over.  Place skin down in a baking dish coated with oil.  Add herbs and garlic (optional)
  3. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes until the fish is just cooked through
  4. Meanwhile, break off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut them on a bias (diagonally).  You can cut them straight too but cutting on a bias is prettier 🙂
  5. When the water for pasta boils add a big pinch of salt and add asparagus to the water
  6. Blanch them for 3 minutes and take them out of the water with a slotted spoon
  7. Return the water to boil and add pasta; cook according to the directions
  8. Heat olive oil and add minced garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary (optional or can be substituted with oregano)
  9. When the garlic gets fragrant add bell pepper and tomatoes; cook on medium-low heat until the tomatoes burst
  10. Add asparagus and adjust salt; turn off the heat and toss it with cooked pasta
  11. Allow the salmon to cool for a minute or two after it’s cooked and slide the fish off the skin.  Tear it into chunks and toss it with pasta
  12. If you have fresh basil leaves toss them into pasta
  13. Serve the pasta topped with shredded parmesan or gruyere cheese

 

** Ever since I switched to buying frozen salmon (cheaper and readily available when you are in the mood for it) incorporating salmon into my weekly menu has been easy.  But, of course, frozen salmon has to be thawed.  I usually let it thaw in the refrigerator for around 8 hours but salmon for dinner was quite an impromptu decision so I went with quick thaw.  The safest quick thaw method is to run salmon sealed in a ziplock bag under cold running water for at least 10 minutes.  The frozen salmon that I buy in WholeFoods comes individually wrapped so I skip the sealing the salmon in water tight pack part.  And being mindful of water conservation I submerge the salmon packets in a bowl of cold water for around 20-25 minutes changing the water 3 times.  I weigh the salmon down with another bowl to keep it submerged.  The salmon I use is not skinless – I just slip a knife under cooked salmon and slide the skin off.  Cooking salmon to perfection is always tricky.  I have some good days where it is cooked just right and moist and I have some bad days where it is a bit tough and dry 🙂

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