Deliciously savory and simply to prepare. This dish is perfect to use up the bounty of spring/summer basil for the pesto recipe, but storebought pesto is just dandy. If you don’t typically toast your pine nuts or roast your garlic for homemade pesto, I recommend trying it once. The flavors are completely transformed. The original recipe calls for evaporated milk in the sauce, but we didn’t have any on hand. Would be interested to see how the sweeter milk would fare. Next time….
Salmon Pesto Pasta, from Crumbly Cookie
8 ounces pasta
12 ounces salmon
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 ounces milk or cream or evaporated milk
1/2 cup pesto (recipe follows or use store-bought)
Additional vegetables (I used spinach and broccoli), optional
grated parmesan, optional for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; stir to separate pasta. Cook pasta until al dente; drain. Pour milk into empty pot and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2. Add cooked pasta to pot and stir to combine.
- Ajust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil. Season skinless side of salmon liberally with salt and pepper, sprinkle with zest, then rub with olive oil. Broil until salmon is no longer translucent and is firm when pressed, about 10 minutes. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with lemon juice. Use fork to flake into bite-sized pieces. Skin will stick to foil and can be discarded.
- Add salmon to pasta mixture and stir over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat and stir in basil and any vegetables, if adding. Top with parmesan, if desired.
Pesto, adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes ½ cup
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (or substitute almonds or walnuts)
5 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed thoroughly
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, Italian (optional)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch table salt
¼ cup (½ ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Toast nuts in small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.
- Add the unpeeled garlic to empty skillet and toast until, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let the garlic cool, then peel and add to food processor bowl. (Alternately, you can also roast your garlic.)
- Place basil and parsley in heavy-duty, quart-size, zipper-lock bag; pound with flat side of meat pounder until all leaves are bruised.
- Process nuts and garlic until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients except cheese; process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl with flexible spatula.
- Transfer mixture to small bowl, stir in cheese(s) and adjust salt. (Can be covered with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly over the surface or filmed with oil and refrigerated up to 5 days.)