Where has this dish been all my life?! Why did it take me so long to create such a simple and elegant supper that I can throw together for my family in 30 minutes and feel confident enough to serve for a last-minute dinner party? This one takes the cake when it comes to versatility and sophistication! I love how the salmon melts into the pasta and the saffron cream coats every noodle so that every bite is a burst of flavors that leaves you wanting, well, a bigger fork! My husband walked in the door after work and looked at me and said "My God! What is that amazing smell!?" he took one bite and melted into his chair! I’ll take that as one of the best compliments I could ever receive!
*This dish uses 3/4 of a bag of dried pasta which can be bit annoying, I know, but I like to use the leftover past for soup. I always have handfuls of different pasta shapes in wrapped up bags lying around my pantry for when I feel the desire to whip together some homemade soup.
Serves 4 hearty bowls or 6 smaller portions
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, season the salmon with a ½ tsp of the salt and some fresh ground pepper and set aside.
In a large skillet (large enough to add the pasta at the end) melt the butter over medium heat until it starts to brown a bit and smell toasty and nutty. Be careful not to burn the butter, it happens quickly. Add the leeks and the other ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste. Sautee until the leeks start to melt into the butter and brown slightly, about 3-5 minutes. Add the vermouth and the saffron and simmer until the vermouth is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the cream and bring to a simmer. While you are waiting for the sauce to simmer, cube the salmon fillet into 2-inch large chunks.
Add the Salmon cubes to the simmering sauce, cover and cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes. Uncover and turn the salmon cubes. Layer the spinach on top of the salmon and cover for another 3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted a bit. Uncover and stir everything together. Add the pasta and stir, breaking up the salmon a bit as you go. Be gentle, you don’t want to break apart the salmon pieces too much. Cook for a few minutes longer, allowing the flavors to mingle. If the pasta starts to appear dry, add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Top with the chopped chives and serve.
Pasta is my ultimate comfort food. There is just something about a big bowl of noodles covered in a thick, rich sauce that warms me to my core. On weekends, I will sometimes spend all day laboring over a big pot of Bolognese or "Sunday" sauce but I don't have as much free time these days so I decided to create a version that was easy to pull together but didn't lack that slow cooked flavor. My original inspiration for this recipe came from a tomato sauce recipe I discovered in Food52's Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore. It's a simple sauce of tomatoes, butter and onions that takes literally almost zero effort to whip together and delivers a delicious result that can be used on just about anything. I tweaked their version a bit and added meatballs to the simmering sauce to create a version that can be made on a week night when you have a little extra time. I hope you enjoy!
Easy Tomato Sauce
1 28 Ounce Can of Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
5 T Butter
1 Medium Onion, Sliced
1 T Honey
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 lb. Lean Ground Beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup fresh ground day old white bread crumbs (I give mine a spin in my food processor)
½ Cup Parmigiano Cheese, ground (I grate my cheese in the food processor until it looks like coarse sand)
1 T Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 Large Garlic Clove minced fine
1/8 tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
½ tsp Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
2 T Olive Oil
Rigatoni, cooked to package directions.
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Cheese for serving.
In a Dutch oven, add the tomatoes, butter, onion, cinnamon, salt and honey. Heat until the sauce begins to simmer and the butter has melted. Cover and continue to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can prepare the meatballs while the sauce cooks. After 30 minutes, the onions should be tender. Add the sauce to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return the sauce to the pot and continue to simmer.
Add the ground meat to a medium size mixing bowl. Whisk together the milk and eggs and add to the beef. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until they are well combined but be careful to not over mix or your meatballs will be tough. Gently press the meat mixture into the bowl and make a cross using your hands into the top of the meat to divide it into 4 equal portions. Take each quarter of meat and roll it into two equal size meatballs. Continue with the rest of the mixture until you have 8 meatballs in total.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the meatballs for 3-4 minutes until a crispy, brown crust forms. Flip the meatballs and repeat on the other side. Remove the meatballs from the oil and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel for a minute. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes at a simmer until the meatballs are cooked through. I usually cook my pasta while I wait for the meatballs to finish cooking.
Spoon the pasta into shallow bowls and top with two meatballs and a ladle full of sauce. Grate fresh Pecorino or Parmigiana over the top and enjoy!
I'll admit that on some week nights, I am just too exhausted by the thought of making dinner, but the idea of ordering takeout, picking it up and overpaying for something that is just so-so is equally exhausting. I have been on a mission to create easy meals that can be prepared with little hassle and minimal cleanup for nights such as these. This lemon veggie orzo is satisfying, somewhat healthy (at least healthier then takeout) and a snap to throw together. If you feel so inclined, grill up some fish or chicken to serve along with the pasta but this dish can easily hold its own. It can also be served at room temp or eaten directly from the fridge the next day if you have any leftovers.
1 lb Orzo cooked to package directions
1 Bunch of Asparagus, trimmed of woody ends and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 T olive oil
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp Garlic Salt
Pepper to taste
1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
2 T fresh minced parsley
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and start the water for the Orzo.
On a baking sheet toss the asparagus pieces with 2 T olive oil, lemon zest, garlic salt and fresh ground pepper. Spread the pieces out evenly and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Start the orzo the same time you add the asparagus to the oven.
While the asparagus and orzo cook, grab a large mixing bowl or serving bowl. Add the halved tomatoes, 1 T olive oil, juice from 1 lemon, parsley and a generous pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir together and allow the tomatoes to macerate while to asparagus and orzo cook.
Remove the asparagus from the oven once it is slightly charred but still hold a slight bite. Drain the orzo and add both the asparagus and pasta to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the butter and stir until everything is combined and the butter has melted. Toss in the cheese and mix until everything is coated.
You can serve this dish immediately or at room temp....it’s not fussy