March 28, 2011

Roasted Tomato Pesto Salmon w/Orechiette Pasta

I have never eaten a pasta dish that included salmon, most probably because up until last summer, The Nudge would not eat it and I do not usually order pasta out. I can't remember the last time I saw salmon on an Italian cooking or vacation show.

After some research I found that Italians do eat salmon but it is not as familiar as other seafood you might see on the table of an Italian family.
Clams, mussels swordfish, squid, sardines, bacala, monkfish, and of course, octopus....yummy.

Salmon is more prevalent in the south of Italy and probably more is eaten on the island of Sicily than anywhere else on the mainland. I can see it simply roasted, like swordfish, with olive oil and salt & pepper.

I could only find salmon and pasta recipes with either smoked salmon or lots of cream. I did not want a heavy cream sauce. I thought about making a brothy salmon dish with a nest of angel hair pasta at the bottom of the bowl because Mondays are soup days here in our house.

Then I thought of segmenting into spring with a pasta salad using salmon. Neither appealed to me.

I finally came around to the idea of roasting the salmon with the tomatoes, garlic, almonds and pine nuts together in the same sheet pan, tossing everything with olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes and serving it over "little ears" pasta.

The key to this recipe is to add ingredients in the order of what takes the longest to roast to the quickest, removing the salmon to a platter and pureeing the remains in a processor with the grated cheese, the squeeze of pesto and more olive oil to get the right consistency to coat the pasta and to drizzle over the salmon. One pot for roasting and an immersion blender or small processor to wash. My kind of dish.

I am naming the final dish......

Roasted Tomato Pesto Salmon w/Orecchiette Pasta
* 1/3 package of Orecchiette pasta
* 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
* extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
* 1 tablespoon dried oregano
* 4 unpeeled large garlic cloves, bruised
* 5 tablespoons sliced raw almonds, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
* 1 good squeeze of basil pesto in a tube
* 1 small roasted red pepper, optional
* 2 teaspoons pine nuts
* 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano, plus more for sprinkling over finished pasta
* juice of half a lemon

1. We will start with the marinade. In a small bowl combine oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and salt & pepper.
2. Rub salmon with mixture and set aside to marinade.
3. In the meantime, add the tomatoes to the marinade and heat the oven to 375F.
4. Place the tomatoes and the garlic on a large sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Add salmon and continue baking for 10 minutes. While the salmon is cooking, start a large pot of salted water for the pasta.
6. Add the almonds and pine nuts and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
7. While nuts are baking, cook the pasta according to package directions.
8. Remove pan from oven and set salmon aside while scraping the rest of the roasted ingredients into the processor bowl or back into the original bowl. With the machine running, add the squeeze of pesto and more olive oil until mixture is processed to a chuncky consistency but has some juice. This will depend on the juiciness of the tomatoes. You do not want a smooth puree, you want very small chunks.
9. Spoon enough mixture over drained pasta to coat well. Add cheese to pasta. Season with salt & pepper.
10. Remove the salmon from tented platter and divide into portions.
11. Spoon about 1 cup of pasta on to each bowl and place salmon fillet on top. Spoon additional tomato pesto, a squeeze of lemon, some chopped parsley and serve.

This was exactly what I had in mind for dinner tonight. Even The Nudge said...."hmmmm, good".
It was light and very healthy and I would make this pesto again. It is just different enough from the basil pesto that you could eat both in the same week.
And yes, I used cheese with fish. In parts of Italy, cheese is allowed. In my house it is always allowed!!

No comments :