Time for fresh, quickly cooked food from nearby and savoring it under a blossoming tree somewhere. If it doesn’t rain first, says the pessimist self; definitely, the sun is back says the optimist.
Lilacs, asparagus and herbs mark the season – and anniversaries. Branches of blooming lilacs festooned our May sailboat wedding along with pizza, asparagus, plenty of beer and chocolate things. It was 85 degrees that day, a rarity in May. Happened again this week.
This pasta and/or salad bring flavors of spring to the table. Three key ingredients in both: asparagus, fresh herbs and smoked salmon. If you have herbs in the garden that are flaunting their vibrancy and flavor, use them abundantly. They will never taste better than now and cutting encourages another round of growth.
Inspired by the Cristina of Sun Valley Cookbook, I’ve added salmon instead of trout to her pasta dish, fresh herbs and peas. Then turned those same ingredients into a salad.
These recipes are a guideline. Non-recipes. And they’re fast. Prepare a bowlful of fusilli pasta or greens for the salad, toss with these key ingredients and others that sound good. Happy Spring.
Fusilli with Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Recipe
Ingredients: 1 # asparagus, cut on diagonal, tough ends removed (save butt ends for broth)/1 # Fusilli pasta/ 2 T butter/ 2 T olive oil/ 1 clove minced garlic/ 2 leeks, chopped into rounds/ Juice of 2 lemons and 2 T zest/ 2 C whipping cream/ 1/2 – 1 # * Loki’s smoked salmon – more or less salmon depending on taste and availability/ 4 T coarsely chopped fresh dill and/or other fresh herbs from the garden – parsley, oregano, marjoram, chives, sorrel . . . I skipped fresh dill and used a variety of fresh herbs along with a teaspoon of dried dill/ Add a handful of peas or pea shoots if you have them/ Salt and pepper to taste/ Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, when serving.
Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil/ Blanch asparagus pieces in boiling water for 1 ½ minutes, drain and transfer to bowl (or use previously cooked asparagus)/ Cook pasta in this same water until al dente, ten or twelve minutes/ While pasta is cooking, melt butter and olive oil in large skillet/ Cook leeks and garlic on medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes/ Add lemon juice and cream/ Simmer/ Just before adding cooked pasta, stir salmon, dill and parsley, peas, zest, salt and pepper into creamy sauce/ Drain pasta, reserving at least one cup of its water, and toss with the sauce/ Simmer together on medium high heat for under a minute/ Add pasta water, a little at a time if needed, for a thinner, creamier sauce/ Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese/ Eat.
Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Salad Recipe
Serves 4 or 5. After ingredients are gathered, this takes about 15 minutes to prepare.
Instead of a sauce for pasta, use similar ingredients to make a dressing for salad, toss with plenty of greens and fresh herbs from the garden. Some frozen peas as a teaser to the real ones coming soon.
Ingredients: A bowl full of salad greens, at least 8 cups (include brassica florets if you have them)/ 1 – 2 C fresh herbs that might include: oregano, marjoram, chives, sorrel, a few mint leaves, fava blossoms, and a large amount of parsley/ ½ #, more or less, Loki’s smoked salmon, broken into bite-sized pieces/ ½ #, or more, trimmed and sliced, lightly blanched or roasted asparagus/ Zest of 1 lemon/ Toss together with dressing, sprinkle with zest, a handful of reserved herbs, add a softly poached or hard boiled egg if you like/ Springtime salad perfection.
Salad Dressing, Ingredients & Directions: Combine 1/4 C olive oil with 1 T whipping cream, juice of 1 lemon, ½ t mustard, salt and pepper to taste/ Shake or whisk vigorously/ Pour some of it over salad greens, taste, add more as needed/ Refrigerate leftover dressing.
*Loki’s is a local, family-run business. Fishing locally and producing delicious products from their sustainably harvested salmon. Available at some Farmer’s Markets, Met Market, PCC Markets.