I love wholesome dinners that come together in under 30 minutes and use fresh seasonal produce. I can’t get enough of asparagus! Here it’s cooked up quickly with the pasta and combined with pan-seared salmon, peas (I used frozen, since we don’t have spring peas yet), and a creamy tarragon sauce -- the creme fraiche is key to its satiny finish. This one is easy enough for a weeknight (even our pre-schooler ate seconds!) but fancy enough for a special occasion. —laura
Set a large pot of water, seasoned liberally with kosher salt, over high heat and bring to a boil.
Pat the salmon dry and season one side with sea salt & pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the pat of butter to melt. When hot, place the salmon fillets seasoned side down and cook without touching them until nicely browned and turning opaque on the bottom half up to almost the middle, about 4 minutes. Flip and brown the other side until fully cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest.
Add creme fraiche and cream to the skillet, mixing them in with the browned butter from the salmon and heat up over low heat as it melts together. Add tarragon and season with sea salt & pepper to taste, then turn heat off under skillet.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to package directions. Meanwhile, strip outer layers of the asparagus off with a vegetable peeler from below the tip all the way down, then break off the ends where they naturally bend. Chop each stock into 1-inch pieces and add the biggest pieces to the boiling pasta 4 to 5 minutes away from being done, then the thinner pieces a minute or so later.
Place the frozen peas in the bottom of a colander. When pasta is done, scoop out a mugful of the pasta water, then drain pasta and asparagus over the peas in the colander.
Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to the cream in the skillet to thin it out a bit and taste and adjust for seasoning (rewarm if necessary). Add the pasta, asparagus, and peas to the skillet and mix well with the sauce, adding more reserved pasta water as necessary (the pasta will soak up a lot of the sauce).
Serve in individual plates with pieces of salmon and a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper. Buon Appetito!