Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fettucini with salmon, zucchini and dill

I cobbled together this pasta dish from several different recipes. I knew what I wanted, I just couldn't find it. After a little trial and error, this is what I was after. The comforting vibe of mac and cheese, but with a sophisticated grown-up twist.

Salmon and dill are BFFs. Likewise, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and cream are good buddies of dill from way back in the old neighborhood. Dill would totally ask salmon to be its maid of honor, but garlic, Parmesan, and cream would fill out the rest of the bridesmaids roster. Dill would secretly worry about how all the gals were going to get along, but sure enough, they all bond over cocktails and a mutual hatred of curly parsley. In other words, I know people clutch their pearls about seafood and cheese, but this just works.

I particularly love how the zucchini behaves like the fettucine noodles when you cut it into matchsticks like this. If you didn't have a zucchini (or if, like me, squash vine borers killed your beautiful plants a few weeks ago, and no I'm still not over it), frozen peas are a great substitute. And since any well-stocked kitchen always has a bag of peas in the freezer and a block of Parmesan in the fridge, using them would make this pretty much an all-pantry meal. Did I mention it's dead simple and only takes half an hour?

~ 4 oz whole-wheat fettucine
1/2 cup of pasta water (save it before you drain the noodles!)

2 fillets of salmon1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, cut into thick matchsticks (I slice mine lengthwise first into broad flat slices and then into sticks, but you could use a mandoline if you're fancy and don't fear losing your fingers like I do)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup half-and-half (or cream, milk, whatever you have)

few sprigs of fresh dill

Set a pot of water to boil for the fettucine while you get everything else together. When it's boiling, salt the water and drop the pasta. Allow to cook until about one minute shy of the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Season your salmon fillets with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pan-fry them in the skillet for about 3 or 4 minutes per side or until they're about three quarters of the way cooked through. Remove them to a plate with tongs and flake them, taking care not to break them up too small as they'll continue to fall apart when you toss them with the pasta.

Meanwhile, combine the Parmesan and half-and-half over a low heat and stir until the cheese has just melted. Turn off the heat and set aside.

In the same skillet you used to cook the salmon, begin to saute the garlic and zucchini. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to cook for only a minute or two, until the zucchini has just softened but not become mushy. Mushy means you let it go too long. *whip crack* Make it again!! I'm kidding. Anyway, assuming your pasta is drained and cheese sauce is ready, add the salmon to the zucchini and toss through. Now add the fettucine, pasta water, cheese sauce, and dill. Toss toss toss. Give it all a really good grinding of black pepper. Allow to cook until the sauce has just tightened up and the pasta and salmon are cooked through, only a minute more at the most.

Serves 2, takes half an hour.


  1. Hey Megan! This sounds so delicious. Do you have any cream substitutes for lactose-intolerant folks?

  2. Hey beautiful bride! I don't really know of a substitute for cream, which doesn't mean there isn't one out there, but what I might do is finish it off like a carbonara - combining a little pasta water and an egg yolk (instead of the half-and-half) with the Parmesan and stirring it through the noodles at the last second. I might have to try it that way just for kicks!