Lemony Salmon and Creamy Asparagus Pasta
- Ready In:
- 400 g green asparagus, fresh, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons white pepper, powdered
- 2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
- 300 g salmon fillets (North Atlantic fresh Norwegian, Scottish or Alaskan)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 cup milk, low fat
- 1⁄4 cup cream
- 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, dill, fennel, cilantro, parsley, any combination very finely chopped
- 1 onion, medium, very finely chopped
- 150 g mushrooms, fresh portobellini, white button mushroom, similar, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250 g pasta, fresh is best, and flat like tagliatelle
- 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated (or a similar dry sweet Italian cheese)
- salt, a bit, less is better
- Cut off the tender asparagus tips at an angle, about a third of the asparagus stems. Boil the tips in 2 cups (500ml) water for 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon then blanch in cold water to keep the bright green colour, and reserve in a microwaveable bowl.
- Cut the remaining asparagus stems into rough 2cm pieces and boil, covered, in the same water with vegetable stock powder and white pepper, for about 8 minutes.
- Blend the stems and cooking water, pulsing until fairly smooth but with small chunks of asparagus remaining.
- In the meantime, in a small saucepan over low heat, make a classic roux: melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then stir in 2 tablespoons of flour with a wooden spoon continuously until the mixture combines completely. Let the roux brown very slightly for a couple of minutes.
- Start adding the milk very slowly, stirring all the time, until all the milk is absorbed by the thirsty roux, and then slowly add the asparagus puree, stirring constantly until you have a thick green asparagus sauce.
- Salt to taste, remembering that in a delicate sauce less salt is better, and you've probably used salted butter.
- Add most of the herbs, reserving some for garnish, then add the cream. Stir very well and turn off the heat.
- While you're doing that, oil the salmon fillets on both sides with about a tablespoon of olive oil and briefly sear over medium-high heat in a large non-stick saucepan. Watch as the white colour moves up the side of the salmon, and when about one-third of the way up turn the salmon. When the other side has seared, while the salmon is still pink in the middle, remove from the pan.
- Turn down the heat in the salmon pan, add the rest of the olive oil and soften onions for 2 minutes or so, add mushrooms for a further 3 minutes, and add garlic for a further 5 minutes. Stir often.
- Now's a good time to start cooking the pasta, according to instructions on the packet.
- Pour the asparagus herbed cream sauce into the onion and mushroom saucepan and mix well. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon, taking care not to add the pips. Stir in half the parmesan cheese.
- Separate the salmon into flakes using a blunt knife. A butter knife is good; salmon flakes beautifully. Add salmon to the warm sauce and stir for 5 minutes or so over low heat. The sauce will finish cooking the medium-rare salmon without toughening it, while it absorbs the yummy creamy asparagus flavours in this honeymoon phase.
- Use the other half of the lemon to slice as garnish for your plates.
- Heat the asparagus tips in the microwave briefly.
- Drain the pasta and divide between the plates. Top with the creamy garlic lemon asparagus salmon sauce, then the asparagus tips and the remaining fresh herbs. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
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