Orecchiette with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

20140712-111932-40772767.jpgWhen I was growing up in the 1970s, there were four kinds of pasta know to us in suburbia: spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna noodles and, if we were feeling very exotic, manicotti. That was pretty much our full repertoire of Italian pasta (I’m not counting Chef Boyardee ravioli because I don’t think it counts as any distinct food group at all). I was well into adulthood before I experimented with pasta dishes that didn’t involve meaty tomato sauce or tons of cheese. Now, however, I love to experiment with all kinds of pasta dishes as well as pasta shapes. On our trip to Italy, Tom and I had the opportunity to try many local pasta dishes that we continue to make at home–none of them drowning in sauce and all of them featuring fresh, seasonal vegetables and seafood. Yum. It was astounding the variety of shapes and sizes of pasta available in Italy. I wanted to fill my suitcase with them!

One of my favorite pasta shapes is orecchiette (or “little ears”) pasta. Shaped somewhat like a little hat, this pasta holds sauce well and is very satisfying. I think you can find this pretty much anywhere now, but if you can’t find it, you can easily substitute penne.

Now that we are seriously increasing our running mileage, I am trying to incorporate more pasta dishes into our meals. This dish is one we experimented with this week and it is really delicious! I’m a huge fan of smoked salmon, but you could easily substitute some grilled or pan seared salmon instead and it would be fabulous (or shrimp…or chicken…pasta is flexible that way). We have been lucky to score some local mushrooms this week and we added them to the dish for an earthier, meatier flavor. So good!

Give this a try for a nice summer supper!

Orecchiette with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon (serves 4-6)

  • 16 oz. orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tbsp. organic butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 cups fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • Zest of 1 organic lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
  1. In a stock pot, bring heavily salted pasta water to a boil.
  2. Add orecchiette to the stock pot and cook according to directions (12-13 minutes)
  3. In a large saute pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until butter is melted and begins to foam.
  4. Peel and mince the garlic. Add to the saute pan. Cook 1 minute.
  5. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Chop the asparagus into bite sized pieces and add to the mushrooms. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Pull or chop the smoked salmon into bite sized pieces and add the salmon and lemon zest to the saute pan.
  9. Heat for 2-3 minutes until salmon is warm and vegetables are cooked, but still a bit crisp.
  10. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add to the saute pan. Toss all together until well combined.
  11. Add small amounts of the pasta water as necessary to make a light sauce. Correct seasonings if needed.
  12. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 

 

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Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

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There is nothing like fresh shrimp, straight from the coast. It is hot here on North Carolina–not as hot as usual, but it is definitely summer. This salad is another in our summer series of foods that will help you stay cool and healthy in the hot weather. I love shrimp salads, but I don’t like a lot of mayonnaise on a hot day. This salad uses lime juice to keep the salad flavorful and interesting, but not heavy. I may try this again with some butterfly pasta and make a shrimp pasta salad version of this. Soooo yummy!

The original version of this recipe came from Gina’s Skinny Recipes (here). I added some fresh cucumber and some fresh corn to the mix (who doesn’t love shrimp and corn?) as well as some smoked paprika to the dressing. I also added more lime juice and left out the cilantro because I have not acquired a taste for it. All good! The version below is my version, but you could alter this to suit your own tastes!

Wondering where to buy your shrimp? Before you head out shopping check THIS past SOLE Food Kitchen post on why local shrimp is important!

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad (serves 4 as a main dish)

  • 1 lb. shrimp
  • 1 medium tomato, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Peel and devein shrimp. Put shrimp in a deep sauté pan, cover with water and poach for 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is pink and opaque. Drain and let cool.
  2. While shrimp is cooling, mix lime zest, juice, oil, paprika, salt and pepper together. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except avocado. Pour dressing over all and carefully stir the salad so all ingredients are coated with dressing.
  4. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  5. Just prior to serving, add the avocado and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.
  6. Serve chilled.

Other shrimp dishes:

Pasta with Shrimp, Green Beans and Tomato

Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp

Pasta with Shrimp, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Local Shrimp Pad Thai

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