This is a quick, clean, bright dish that requires no cooking aside from boiling water for the pasta. It also lends itself to several variations: Try boiled, skin-on new potatoes in place of the pasta for a sort-of Nicoise effect, or skip the carbs and eat the salad on its own (with or without the smoked salmon). —Chris Hagan
capers, drained and rinsed, rough chop
juice of 1/2 navel orange
salt, pepper, & tarragon to taste
good olive oil
smoked salmon, sliced into thin strips
Reserved fennel fronds, fresh tarragon, or fresh dill, to garnish
Whisk together the mustard, capers, orange juice, and tarragon in a bowl. Slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and lots of freshly-ground black pepper. Set aside.
Wash the parsley well and dry it on paper towels. Pluck enough leaves to fill about a cup, tightly packed, and give them a quick rough chop. Save the remaining parsley for another use.
Peel the carrots and use the peeler to shave them into thin ribbons about 2 inches long. Depending on the size of the carrots, you should get a big handful of ribbons, about a cup, give or take.
Cut the stalks off the fennel and discard, or save for another use, like stock. Reserve some fronds for garnish. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and remove the outer layer if tough or blemished. Core the bulb halves, then slice very thinly crosswise. Combine with the parsley and carrots and toss with the dressing. Set aside while the pasta cooks. (The longer this sits, the better it gets.)
Bring a large pot of well-salted (it should taste of the sea) water to a boil. Cook the tagliatelle according to directions. If it's fresh, it should only take two minutes or so. Drain, reserving a ladleful of pasta water. Toss the pasta quickly with the carrot-fennel-parsley mixture and the smoked salmon and a little of the pasta water (if necessary). Garnish with fennel fronds, fresh tarragon, fresh dill, or a combination to taste, and serve immediately.