Friday night special: In the time it takes the pasta to cook, you have everything else done and you’re ready to eat.
I love having folks over for Friday night dinners. It is fun to make this meal a bit special to mark the close of the week. The weekend seems longer and more festive if you start it off with something really tasty, even with a simple pasta dish, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of work or time. This one is as fast as it is memorable.
This is a variation on a recipe I used to make using my homemade crème fraîche, but since my husband’s heart attack and an attempt to bring both our cholesterol levels down, I had to make a few swaps. The first was to use goat cheese as my creamy element, and not a lot of it.
A favorite goat cheese
My goat cheese here was an herbed variety from a local dairy, and it’s one of my favorites. Lower in cholesterol than cow cheese, this is a better choice if you are being careful with saturated fats. If you don’t do dairy at all, you can substitute a vegan cream cheese here.This dish is also delightful with absolutely no creamy element. Or, you can make it the way I originally did using crème fraîche!
Corn goes a long ways!
I saved corn from a big batch I roasted the day before. Roasted or grilled is best, but in a pinch, or out of season, you can substitute a nice frozen corn. I also saved the cobs and tucked them in the pasta water to lend more flavor. Not essential, but a nice touch.
First, choose a tasty salmon
Faroe Island salmon was my choice here, buttery and firm, with great flavor. However, use what is fresh and in season. In June, I would use a wild Alaskan salmon. You could also use another firm fish.
My pasta this time around was an Italian fusilli made with whole durum wheat. A penne would be nice here, or even a whole-grain spaghetti.
Don’t skip the anchovies
The anchovies add a flavorful little background note, so keep them in, even if you think you don’t like anchovies. I won’t ever ask you to eat a whole one straight up, or put a whole one on a pizza! Here, they will disappear into the sauce, a lingering, soft memory. They are just little tiny fish and they won’t hurt you.
Ask someone to set the table, let someone else pour the wine, and in the time it takes for everyone to get settled, this dish is ready for you all to enjoy, and the weekend begins!
Salmon with Roasted Corn, Fusilli, and Chèvre
- 10 oz. pasta of choice
- 3 tbsp. fruity olive oil
- 4 anchovy filets, minced
- 1 lb. salmon, skinned and save
- 6 cloves of garlic, or so, finely minced
- 1 cup cooked corn, preferably roasted
- ¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves
- 3 to 4 oz. goat chèvre of choice, broken up
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil to garnish
Play some favorite music, I like jazz with this dish. Put a large pot of water on to boil, salt it, and cook pasta according to package directions. If you have a few corn cobs, toss them in too; they will flavor the pasta water that you will use at the end.
In the meantime, skin the salmon, and cut the flesh into 1-inch chunks, salting lightly. Place the skin on toweling to absorb the moisture, then lightly salt it as well.
In a large skillet, heat about half the olive oil and add the skin. Cook until brown, both sides, remove to drain, then add the anchovies and the rest of the oil to the pan. Let these melt for about a minute, then add the salmon. Cook on one side for about a minute, add the garlic, turn, and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes, or until just barely done with a bit of undercooked in the middle. Stir in the corn to warm, add the basil, then remove from heat.
Chop the cooled, crisp skin. Have it ready to garnish at the end. Chop up some more basil too.
Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the water, and add the pasta back to the hot pan. Add the goat cheese and a few tablespoons of the pasta water and let the cheese melt. If need be, add a bit more pasta water to make it creamy. You know how you like it!
Place the pasta in pretty serving bowl, and add the salmon mixture on top. Garnish with more basil leaves, the crisped skin, and serve. It is kind of pale to look at, so I served this with peas on the side and it was just right. Serves 4 to 6.
Now, everything is good!
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