I've been feeling lately that my food hasn't been leaving a big enough carbon footprint lately. That's why last night, rather than trying to convince myself that those pencil thin stalks of asparagus at QFC were from some local greenhouse (local...at $1.99/#...sure), I just grabbed what I needed without thinking about jet fuel, ozone depletion, and the fact that there was a good chance some 6-year old picker was shuffling sadly through the fields from whence this came (I mean who's hands are better suited to deftly plucking these slender stalks than a 6-year old, right?). I went home and with, okay, maybe a tinge of guilt, and set about chopping and combining with some smoked salmon (excellent smoked coho from Trader Joe's) and some fresh tagliatelle from Pastaworks. The result? A dish that inspired w's initial comment "This seems so summery". Well...duh...it IS summer wherever this asparagus came from! I actually didn't say that. I have to admit I didn't even think that. I wish I would have but that response just came to me. Rats, another missed opportunity! I found the basis for this pasta (that tastes pretty effing good in mid-winter, fyi) on epicurious, and twisted it ever so slightly to amp up the flavor quotient. It was super fast, terribly easy, and incredibly delicious. I popped the cork on a 2008 Antoine Simoneau Touraine-Sauvignon Blanc from the mecca of sauv blanc, France's Loire Valley. The wine was spectacular with this dish. The citrusy, minerally, racy sauv blanc flavors pairing perfectly with the briny-smoky salmon and cutting right through the rich lemon-cream sauce and washing away those remaining flashes of guilt. Man, I dig it when it all works out!
*** *** *** *** ***
Tagliatelle in Lemon Cream Sauce with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon
adapted from epicurious
yield: Serves 4 as a main course
1 pound asparagus
2 large shallots
6 ounces smoked salmon
1 pound dried Tagliatelle (pappardelle or fettuccine would work just as well)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1-Trim asparagus and diagonally cut into 1" thick slices. Finely chop shallots. Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure about 1 tablesppoon (a little extra is not a problem) and squeeze enough juice to measure 4 or 5 tablespoons. Cut salmon into 2 x 1/2-inch strips.
2-Fill a 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for asparagus and pasta. Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. Cook asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, and with a slotted spoon transfer to ice water to stop cooking. Reserve water in pot over low heat, covered. Drain asparagus and set aside some asparagus tips for garnish.
3-In a deep 12-inch heavy skillet cook shallots in butter with salt and pepper to taste over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and zest and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons lemon juice and remove skillet from heat. Return water in pot to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente and ladle out and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta in a colander and add to sauce with asparagus, 1/2 cup pasta water, three fourths salmon, remaining lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat mixture over low heat, gently tossing (and adding more remaining pasta water as needed if mixture becomes dry), until just heated through.
4-Serve pasta garnished with reserved asparagus tips and remaining salmon.