Brown Butter Salmon Pasta With Hazelnut-Caper Bread Crumbs

April 13, 2022
0 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom, Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi, Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog"
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Canned salmon is a super versatile and affordable pantry item that effortlessly transforms into satisfying meals. Bonus points: it’s an excellent source of protein, calcium and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Since it’s shelf-stable, keep a few cans on hand for those days when you need a convenient way to get dinner on the table fast. Look out for fish that’s sustainably wild-caught, which helps overfishing and limits bycatch of other species. Orange-red sockeye salmon is used here for its firm texture and richer flesh, but pink salmon is a great alternative if a milder flavor is desired.

This fast weeknight pasta brightens canned salmon by pairing it with fresh spring asparagus in a lemony sauce, balanced by caramelized sweet shallots and aromatic garlic. The flaked salmon is cooked in the brown butter until it breaks down into the sauce (crumbling much like ground meat), absorbing all of the flavors and coating the pasta for even bites of salmon. The asparagus smartly gets a quick blanch with the pasta during the last minute of boiling, keeping it bright green and crisp-tender. Capers and golden hazelnuts add a crunchy nutty finish with briny notes that balance the rich brown butter sauce.
kay chun

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti or another long-shaped pasta
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced ¼-inch-thick on the bias (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped blanched toasted hazelnuts
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans sockeye salmon, drained and flaked
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, adding asparagus during the last minute of cooking. Reserve 1 ½ cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add capers and cook, stirring, until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes. Stir in hazelnuts until well blended and golden, 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Wipe out skillet. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add shallot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salmon, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until salmon is crumbled, golden and crisp in spots, about 5 minutes longer.
  4. To the large pasta pot over medium heat, return pasta and asparagus, 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, lemon juice, scallions and salmon mixture. Season with salt and pepper and stir vigorously until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese (add more pasta water if a thinner consistency is desired).
  5. Divide pasta in bowls and top with some of the crunchy hazelnut-caper bread crumb topping.

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2 Reviews

J. February 26, 2023
I’m sorry, are there breadcrumbs in this? Or is it just capers and hazelnuts chopped up?
FrugalCat April 22, 2022
Very easy to halve and we still had some leftovers. I used penne (I don't twirl) and green beans instead of asparagus. Overall, a really good dish.