When I pack for a vacation, I don't think in terms of outfits. I pack a suitcase full of clothes to mix and match, and when I get dressed each morning, I reach into the suitcase, grab a couple of things, and know that I'll come out with a combination that works. My pantry resembles that suitcase, filled with all kinds of ingredients that might go together; often a recipe starts with one ingredient and then, as I go along, I grab other things from the spice rack or cupboard, and hope for the best. That's how this pasta dish evolved. First came the farfalle, then the salmon from the freezer. The lemon was a given, asparagus (it could have been zucchini) a lucky find at the market, and the panko an inspiration that gave added body to the pasta. Mix and match.
Salmon, asparagus and lemon pasta
12 oz pasta (farfalle, penne, rotini or other stubby pasta shape)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
1 lb very thin asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 lb skinless salmon filet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup black olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh dill weed
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
Bring six quarts of water to boil in a stock pot. Add the pasta, and cook for one minute less than the package recommends. Drain (reserve 2 cups of the cooking water), and set aside. Do not rinse the pasta.
In a large (12-inch) nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, for 2-3 minutes; the asparagus should be just barely beyond raw. Stir in the salmon pieces and red pepper flakes, and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. When the salmon no longer looks raw, mix in the lemon zest and juice, black olives, panko, wine and parsley or dill, and let everything cook together for 1 minute. Toss occasionally; the salmon pieces will break up a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the pasta to the pan, along with 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed. If you are opting for the cheese (and, though true Italian cooks frown on it, I love the combination of fish and cheese so I encourage you to try it), add the cheese now, and stir until the cheese melts.
Top with plenty of black pepper, and serve hot.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives
Broccoli, basil and pasta salad
Shrimp, lemon, herb and feta macaroni and cheese
Pasta with clams and vegetable sauce
Pasta salad with feta, basil, olives, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Pan-seared salmon with pasta and spinach cream sauce, from The Paupered Chef
Smoked salmon pasta salad, from Simply Recipes
Salmon pasta with tomato chickpea sauce, from Christine's Recipes
Baked lemon pasta, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Pasta with lemon-mint butter and peas, from eCurry
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