The situation is as follows: I like salmon. I like pasta. I felt certain when I spotted Salmon Pasta that the two elements would find a marriage of great harmony, not unlike the peanut butter and chocolate nuptials that brought us so many decades of low-rent pleasure.
What I particularly like about this recipe, outside of its many-food-groups-in-a-bowl goodness, is that while it has three steps taking place in three separate pans, they are done more or less simultaneously, thus somehow lessening the time and work load of the entire process.
The first step takes all of three minutes: salt, pepper and lightly oil your (I hope extremely fresh wild) salmon and toss it on a lined baking sheet as requested by mariaraynal, and pop it in your pre-warmed oven. I would like to pause here briefly to tell you all about a very exciting thing that has occurred in my life –- I went to Surfas, the restaurant supply store in Culver City, on Sunday and purchased a huge flat of pre-cut parchment paper. The first piece was used for my salmon. Oh, joy!
Okay so while your salmon is cooking (you won’t let it overcook right? Thank you.) go ahead and get the water boiling, then add the sturdy pasta that was requested of you. She likes penne. So do I.
I talked to my husband on the phone for the entirety of the next step, which is chopping up a cup of shallots. Don’t skimp. In fact, if anything, I would like to see two cups of shallots for this recipe, which calls for a pound of pasta (even though I did not throw the entire pound into my final dish). The shallots are the love of this marriage –- the pasta and the salmon being perhaps its commitment and virtue, respectively –- and you really want to taste them in this dish. Ditto for the pepper flakes. Be generous of hand. Use the best anchovies you can get your hands on, as I have lectured before.
Mariaraynal asks you to reserve your entire pot of pasta water in the event you need to moisten the pasta shallot mess you will soon have in your large frying pan. I think this is excessive; I used a tablespoon. So just save a cup, ok?
The incipient vegetarian –- at present a pescatarian, she says -– came home from the gym and rested a bowl precariously on her knees. She never had to be told to keep eating. “I never really thought about salmon and pasta mixed,” she said, a fan of both. Now we all know better.
Serves 4 to 6
1. Put a pot of water over high heat on the stovetop for pasta. When the water come to boil, add a handful of salt and cook the pasta for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and save pasta water.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the salmon fillet on a lined baking tray and season well with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with fork.
3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the shallots, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and anchovies and continue to stir. Season with black pepper, crushed red pepper, and, if desired, salt.
4. When the shallots and garlic are soft and lightly caramelized, add the drained, cooked pasta to the skillet and toss with the shallot mixture until well combined. Deglaze with the wine and reduce for several minutes.
5. Remove the salmon from oven and flake into large pieces. Place in the skillet and stir gently. If needed, add some pasta water and check the seasoning. Zest the lemon over the pasta and serve.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
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