Spinach Pasta with Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce

18th May 2006

Library_4715 I came across a book at the Strand Bookstore some time ago called The Top 100 Pasta Sauces , and was intrigued.  Slapped on a cover was a gold circle that declared it had sold “Over 1 million copies,” and I felt a bit like I’d missed the boat, as this was an old used one that somebody was through with.  Flipping through it I found beautiful colored pencil sketches, which gave the book a nice whimsy and was a refreshing alternative to the usual glossy “food porn” that has become ubiquitous in cookbooks.  I'll admit, definitely, that it’s nice to see what would happen if a master chef cooked your recipe.  But the fanciful sketches (illustrated by Robert Budwig) in this book allow you to use more imagination.  It feels more understated. And so do the recipes.  The book is full of jaunts like this one, rarely use red meat, and are the result of Diana Seed living in Italy forever and writing down every secret she dug up.  There's a section on every kind of vegetable from squash flowers to artichokes to pumpkins.  Also, many of them are quite simple and quick and don’t involve hours of simmer or even much preparation.  They focus on the simplest and most inspired combinations of ingredients, the philosophy of noncomplication that makes Italian cuisine wonderful. Tagliolini al Salmone Affumicato P1010012_2

  • 1 lb pasta (Tagliolini is called for; we used fettucini), Spinach is best
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 onion
  • 5 oz smoked salmon
  • 1 cup light cream
  • black pepper
  • lemon zest (optional; half a lemon or so)

The recipe didn't mention it, but a little lemon zest might have drawn some high notes out of the just-a-bit-too-rich sauce.   But altogether, the simplicity of this recipe and its unique technique is remarkable. First chop up half your smoked salmon to be used in the sauce.  But, as always, put water to boil first. P1010019_2 Next saute the onion in the butter until it's soft, but don't let it brown.  If you're using lemon zest, add it at some point with the onion.  Add the chopped half of the salmon along with the cream.  Warm through.  Throw your pasta in the boiling water. P1010027_3 Next toss the mixture into a blender, the interesting part of this recipe, to create a luxurious sauce.  Blend it on a pretty high setting to get a puree. Now pour it over your drained, cooked pasta. P1010031_1 The remaining salmon gets sliced into strips, folded in, and gently tossed with spinach pasta.  Grind fresh black pepper over the whole mixture. P1010032_1 If you can do it, fresh pasta makes this dish shine, or see if your grocer sells it.  Serve the sauce immediately.


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