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.

 

 

Advertisements

Smoked Salmon Cobb Salad

20140306-092102.jpg

It is still, literally, freezing outside. Regardless of the bitter cold, I am craving spring salads like crazy because it is March–usually springtime here in North Carolina. Not this year, though. We don’t have the feet and feet of snow that the northern and midwestern states have, but we do have a stubborn, persistent cold that will not yield to spring. So despite the cold temperatures, we’ve been making salads using local hothouse greens, tomatoes and even strawberries! We are pushing it, I realize, but I just have to get my fresh salads back into our menu rotation.

This salad is springy in its ingredients list, but pretty satisfying as a meal. Try to buy hot smoked salmon if you can manage to fit it into your budget. It is meatier and somehow more filling that the cold smoked, think sliced salmon. Either are good though! This recipe originally came from Martha Stewart. I changed it up just a little bit, adding more salmon and decreasing the onion. The original recipe had way too much shallot in the dressing–it was like a disgusting onion fest. The version below reflects a more delicate version of the dressing.

If you are craving spring and spring foods, jack up the thermostat for a couple of hours, make this salad and pretend it’s spring!

Smoked Salmon Cobb Salad (serves 2 as an entree salad)

  • 3/4 cup fresh buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup organic mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large head organic butter lettuce
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 strips smoked bacon
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado
  1. Add the first 6 ingredients to a small bowl and using an immersion blender, blend for about 10 seconds. Taste for seasoning and correct. Cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready.
  2. Cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels and reserve.
  3. Wash, spin dry and chop the lettuce.
  4. Assemble the salad by dividing the lettuce between two large plates.
  5. Chop the hard boiled eggs and bacon and add to the lettuce.
  6. Flake the salmon with a fork, remove any bones and add to the salads.
  7. Wash and chop the tomato. Add to the salads.
  8. Peel and dice the ripe avocado, discarding the pit. Add the avocado to the salads.
  9. Top with the reserved buttermilk dressing and serve immediately.
%d bloggers like this: