Farfalle With Smoked Trout & Lemony Crème Fraîche

May 10, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

There's no greater harbinger of spring than tender asparagus stalks cropping up at the market. Here is an easy weeknight pasta recipe celebrating the glory of the new season: longer days luring you outside; sweet market arrivals (like said asparagus); and yes, even pollen-induced sneezing signaling Mother Nature at work.

Make your salted pasta water work triple-time: Blanch your asparagus until bright green and crisp tender, then use the same water to get your farfalle going. Reserve a bit of starchy cooking water to thin out the sauce we'll be tossing everything in (more on that, below). By the way, there's no need to shock your asparagus in a fussy ice bath here; they're happy to drain in a colander while the pasta finishes cooking.

We are leaning on the convenience of smoked trout to give this quick pasta great oomph in flavor in minimal time. Hot smoked salmon, with its firmer flesh, would be a good substitute, as would tinned smoked trout (which may need a bit more seasoning, depending on the liquid they're stored in). Before flaking the smoked trout, remember to remove the tough, leathery skin and run your fingers over the fillet for any large pin bones (and continue to be on alert for the more delicate pin bones as you start flaking).

The base of the pasta sauce is crème fraîche, a richer, less tangy cousin to sour cream. If you're able to remember, bringing the crème fraîche to room temperature before using will make working with it a bit easier. We're amping up the freshness with both lemon zest and juice (and will also be serving the finished pasta with lemon wedges). Thinning it out with pasta cooking water will help two-fold: 1. To temper the crème fraîche (especially if it’s straight from the fridge) and prevent it from curdling when it meets the hot pasta; 2. To create a more workable sauce to coat all of the other ingredients.

Lastly, we are going heavy on the dill here. You need an herb that can stand up to the salty smoked trout and rich crème fraîche, so go ahead and give the entire lot a generous showering of verdant dill, which adores seafood of any kind. —Hana Asbrink

What You'll Need
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Farfalle With Smoked Trout & Lemony Crème Fraîche
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 medium lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch (14 to 16 ounces) asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 8 ounces farfalle
  • 4 ounces (1 filet) smoked trout, skin and pin bones removed
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dill (from about 5 stems), plus a few larger leaves for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When it starts bubbling, generously season with salt.
  2. While the water heats up, add the crème fraîche to a large bowl. Finely grate the lemon zest (preferably with a Microplane) on top. Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze ½ on top of the zest, discarding any seeds. Cut the other ½ into wedges for serving. Stir together the crème fraîche and lemon, then season with pepper to taste.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, cook the asparagus for 2 to 4 minutes, until bright green and crisp tender. Remove with tongs and place in a colander to drain.
  4. Let the water return to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente, according to the package directions.
  5. While the pasta cooks, transfer the cooked asparagus to a cutting board and cut on a slight diagonal into approximately 1-inch pieces (slightly smaller if the asparagus are really thick); you want them a bit shorter than the farfalle. Place in a medium bowl (or one of the bowls you’ll eat out of to save a dish).
  6. With your hands, flake off small pieces of trout, keeping an eye out for any additional bones. Add to the bowl with the asparagus.
  7. Just before the pasta is ready, reserve about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. Add 1/4 cup of this water to the crème fraîche and stir to combine until smooth. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the crème fraîche. Toss to combine. Once the pasta is coated with the sauce, add the asparagus, trout, and dill to the bowl, and gently toss. Add more pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the sauce looks too thick. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Divide among plates, then top with more dill and pepper. Serve with the lemon wedges.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nicole O.
    Nicole O.
  • Huying
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.

2 Reviews

Huying January 22, 2024
Nice recipe! I happen to have very good asparagus on hand and its sweetness perfectly balances the tartness of the lemon and the savory trout. I used half of the crème fraîche so it is definitely less creamy, but still very good. I also like the thoughtful suggestions of cutting the asparagus shorter than the pasta and "saving a dish."
Nicole O. July 4, 2023
If not eating right away, I mix in extra crème fraîche before serving. I also squeeze the other half of the lemon into the pasta and have subbed peas for asparagus sometimes.