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Penne Pasta with Salmon and Asparagus in Lemon Sauce

salmon pasta fish entree  food photoTwo ingredients I think have a natural affinity for each other are salmon or asparagus with lemon.  Combine all three and you have an incredible taste combination.

All asparagus is not created equal.  There are three sizes and not all of them perform in every venue the same.  Please see the Asparagus blog in the technique section.

For the salmon, ask your fishmonger to remove all the skin.  Since there is little to no shrinkage, a six to eight ounce portion is a good size.  I like to get my seafood at Bob’s Seafood on Olive.  They only sell fish and seafood, the variety is wonderful and because the turnover is great, I have always found everything to be fresh. There is wild and farm raised salmon.  The wild has an incomparable taste but the farm raised is fine also.  For this recipe the salmon may be roasted, as I have done, or grilled if you prefer.

Just don’t overcook it.  Fish cooks very fast.  The Canadian method of cooking fish works well and basically says that fish should be cooked 10 minutes for every inch of thickness at the thickest part, no matter the method of cooking.  I generally roast at 350 degrees and this seems to work well.  I also prefer the fillets to the steaks, as there are so many pin bones in the steaks, it seems to take me forever to get them out.  No pin bones in fillets – which says it all!

The penne pasta with the asparagus and lemon sauce can be a meal all by itself for me.  The shape of the penne catches and holds the sauce perfectly but any cooked pasta can be substituted.  The hint of ginger adds another flavor dimension the Penne Pasta with Salmon and Asparagus in Lemon Sauce.  For how to photos of the sauce, please see the Bechamel post in the Technique Section.

To save the lemon juice, squeeze it and either store in the fridge if  you will use it within a week or freeze it in the cavity of an ice cube tray.  When frozen, store it in a freezer proof bag to be used whenever you need a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  Thanks to a reader for asking about the lemon juice and how to save it.

salmon pasta fish entree  food photo

1 pound penne pasta
3/4 pound asparagus
4 – 6 to 8 ounce salmon fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups half and half
3 tablespoons white wine
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Grated zest of one medium size lemon
1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place the salmon on one end, salt and pepper it. Trim the asparagus ends, toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place on the other end of the baking sheet.  Set aside.salmon pasta fish entree  food photo

Cook the penne in a large amount of boiling, salted water for 12 to 14 minutes, just until tender.  Do not overcook.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Set aside.  (If you don’t rinse the pasta, it will stick together in one large lump as it cools.  I don’t like to add oil to keep it separate as I want the sauce to coat the pasta.)

Make the sauce by melting the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the flour and whisk together until completely combined.  Cook for about a minute but do not let it brown.  Add the half and half, wine, salt and pepper.  Over medium heat, whisk constantly, cooking until the sauce comes to a boil.  salmon pasta fish entree  food photoAdd the lemon zest and ginger.

Cover and set aside.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the asparagus for about 6 to 8 minutes, just until barely tender.  Remove the spears and cut into bite size pieces.salmon pasta fish entree  food photo

Continue roasting the salmon for a total of 12 to 15 minutes until it flakes.  Do not over cook.  It is better slightly undercooked, than any overcooked!

Add the asparagus salmon pasta fish entree  food photoand penne to the sauce.  Heat over low to medium heat while the salmon finishes.   salmon pasta fish entree  food photoAdjust the seasoning if necessary.

Plate the pasta on the bottom with the salmon fillet on top.

salmon pasta fish entree  food photo

4 comments to Penne Pasta with Salmon and Asparagus in Lemon Sauce

  • bruno

    After the lemon is zested, can it be stored and saved in the fridge until a later use? I have trouble wasting an entire lemon and using it only for the zest. I guess the juice can be added to the sauce or poured over the fish.

    • Helen S. Fletcher

      Thank you so much for giving me a chance to answer this question. I will go back and add it into the article. The lemon juice can be saved in a couple of ways. Squeeze it, put it into an ice tray cavity, freeze it then transfer it to a freezer proof bag where you can keep it for a long time.
      The other way is to save in the fridge if you think you will use it within a week. I always have cubes of lemon juice I can add wherever I need them.

  • bruno

    Excellent recommendation. Can lemon zest be frozen and used later as well? Not sure. Wondering if I could zest a bunch of lemons for baking later and also freeze the juice.

    • Helen S. Fletcher

      Absolutely! Just zest the lemon and spread it as flat as possible on a piece of waxed paper or foil. Freeze solid. Quickly scrape onto a piece of film, wrap tightly and store in a freezer proof bag. Use as you would fresh zest. You might want to measure the zest of one lemon so if a recipe calls for the zest of a half lemon or a full lemon you know how much to use of your frozen cache. Just remember to write it down somewhere so you don’t forget as I do if it isn’t in writing.