Saturday night + lots of work to do + home alone + extreme laziness = grabbing a recipe out of my "tried and true" box. I've made this simple pasta dish from epicurious many, many times in the past, and it never disappoints. Despite the butter and cream, this dish is surprisingly light and refreshing (due to the asparagus) and the smoked salmon, which I like to refer to as "the bacon of the sea," adds the perfect amount of flavorful saltiness.
- 1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces (white ends trimmed)
- 1 lb. pappardelle (I like using egg pappardelle)
- 3 tbsp. butter (I had leftover Plugra from the gnocchi the other day, so I used that, but regular butter is fine - that being said, I now may be addicted to this high-butterfat butter, which is very, very bad news.)
- 2 large shallots, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 6 oz. smoked salmon, cut into 1/2"-wide strips
First, I boiled a pot of heavily salted water and cooked the asparagus about 3 minutes, just until tender-crisp. While the asparagus was cooking, I filled a large bowl with ice water.
After 3 minutes, I scooped the asparagus out of the pot with a slotted spoon and plunged it into the ice water. After wondering about the purpose of the ice bath when making my gnocchi the other day, I did some reading up - the cold water stops the asparagus from continuing to cook (the crispness of the asparagus is one of the best parts of this dish!) and sets the color, leaving you with a beautiful, vibrant green.
I set aside the asparagus and started cooking the pappardelle according to the package instructions. Then I moved onto the sauce, which combines two of my favorite ingredients, minced shallots...
...and lemon zest.
I melted the butter in a pot over medium low heat, added the shallots, salt and pepper, and cooked until tender, about 7 minutes.
I stirred in the cream and lemon zest and simmered about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce was sufficiently thickened, I removed it from the heat and stirred in 2 tbsp. of the lemon juice.
Finally, I added the drained pasta, asparagus, and smoked salmon to the pot with the remaining lemon juice and tossed it all together until thoroughly combined. Full of bright flavors, this dish gave me the tasty fuel I needed to plough through the rest of my work-filled night. There are relatively few recipes that make it into my recipe box (which is actually a box of jumbo chalk I emptied out), but this dish has more than earned its place.