Once again, the recipe highlighted in today’s post was suggested by my better half, who informed me that we had a haul of salmon in our overcrowded freezer that needed to be pared down. The recipe, “Orecchiette with Salmon, Arugula and Artichokes” is by cookbook author Grace Parisi and comes from the December 2012 issue of Food and Wine.
Most appealing to me was the recipe’s combination of marinated artichokes, green olives, and capers, which I thought would work well with the salmon. Less tempting, however, was its call for 5 ounces of arugula to be wilted down with the pasta during the last minute or so of cooking, “Is this supposed to be a salad?” I asked skeptically. There was no response.
Also, I wasn’t too happy to discover an hour before dinner that the recipe called for roasted salmon which seemed to belie the recipe’s being labeled a “Fast Weekday Pasta.” But since depleting our salmon supply elicited this recipe, there was no backing down. Fortunately, I remembered Mark Bittman’s recipe for “Roasted Salmon with Butter,” which requires less than 15 minutes to execute and yields perfectly cooked and delicious fillets. I’ve included the recipe for it here as well.
Despite my reservations about this recipe, it yielded a richly flavored, savory pasta dish that teased the palate with its interplay of texture. The flavors were perfectly balanced, none dominated, allowing each ingredient to share the spotlight.
My only deviation from the recipe was finishing the sauce with a little of the melted butter in which I had roasted the salmon. When cooking the pasta, I may have stopped a minute or two before it reached the al dente stage, since the pasta would be cooked again along when combined in the sauté pan with the other ingredients. I also modified the recipe’s cooking temperature for finishing the pasta.
Orecchiette with Salmon, Arugula, and Artichokes (adapted from a recipe by Grace Parisi in Food & Wine)
8 ounces orecchiette
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
5 ounces baby arugula
½ cup drained marinated artichokes, quartered
¼ cup pitted Sicilian green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
¾ pound roast salmon, flaked (2 loose cups)
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until just shy of al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
a) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.
b) Add the garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
c) Reduce the heat to medium, add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
d) Add the arugula, artichokes, olives, capers and the remaining 1/4 cup of cooking water and simmer, stirring, until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. (Before adding the artichokes, olives, and capers, you may want to wilt the arugula a little.)
e) Stir in the salmon and cook just until heated through. Season lightly with salt and serve on warmed plates
Wine Pairing: Grüner Veltliner, Alsatian Riesling
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Below is the recipe for the salmon that I referenced above.
Roasted Salmon with Butter (adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
4 tablespoons (1 ⁄ 2 stick) butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 skinless salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
1. Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
2. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Either on top of the stove or in the oven as it heats, in a small roasting pan just large enough to hold the salmon, melt the butter until the foam subsides
4. Put the salmon fillets in the butter, flesh side down, and put the pan in the oven. Roast for about 5 minutes.
5. Flip the fillets and roast for another 3 or 4 minutes longer, until the salmon is done.
6. Transfer the salmon to a plate and flake.