Farfalle Pasta with Salmon in a Vodka Sauce served with a side of roasted asparagus

I recently had some company over for dinner and decided it would be a classy night as opposed to going out. I also was very pressed for time so pasta sounded like a good idea. I decided to go with seafood in my attempt to go vegetarian (not going well) and make dinner a little more elegant. Once I decided on salmon, I thought that a flavorful vodka sauce would be the best dress for the dish. And it was. Thanks to Giada de Laurentiis (my role model) for her vodka sauce recipe because dinner was a success.
I simply paired some roasted asparagus with the dish, but the pasta can be a a meal in itself. There were 3 main parts to the pasta dish. First, was making the vodka sauce. Second, was cooking the salmon. And third, was cooking the pasta and tossing all the ingredients to finish it. For the asparagus, just tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. All together, it took me about an hour in a frenzy, but is fairly simple and you can do it.
Ingredients for Vodka Sauce (for 1 1/2 lbs pasta):
  • 3 cups (24 oz or 1 jar) marinara sauce (I recommend Bertolli)
  • 1 cup Vodka- don’t skimp
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ingredients for pasta dish (serve 8-10):
  • 1 1/2 pounds bow tie pasta
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • Homemade Vodka sauce
  • Handful of fresh or frozen peas
Directions for Vodka Sauce:
1. Combine marinara sauce and Vodka in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes. This is to burn off some of the liquid and alcohol, so wait until sauce becomes thick before moving to next step.

2. Remove from heat, add the heavy cream and simmer for a little longer until sauce thickens. Stir mixture constantly when the heat is on so cream doesn’t curdle.
3. Remove saucepan from heat and add grated Parmesan. Add some freshly grated pepper. Mix thoroughly.
4. Stir in peas while sauce is still warm.
Recipe adapted from: Giada de Laurentiis, Everyday Italian

Directions for Salmon and Pasta:

(I would recommend cooking the salmon while the vodka sauce is simmering)
1. Season the salmon fillets lightly with salt and pepper.
2. Drizzle a large frying pan with olive oil. Then the oil is hot, place the fillets skin side up onto the pan. Season the side facing up with a little more salt and pepper.
3. Cook first side for about 6 minutes. Flip carefully with spatula and fork. Cook other side for a shorter amount of time but fish should be firm when done.
4. Set aside on a cutting board or flat dish.
5. When fillets cool, cut into large pieces to be tossed with pasta.
6. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. Cook “al dente” so that there is still a bite to the pasta. Drain pasta thoroughly.
7. Finally, add salmon and vodka sauce to pasta and toss. You can do this in the same pot you used for pasta if it is large enough. Be careful not to break up the salmon as best as you can.

Ingredients for roasted asparagus:
  • 3 bunches fresh asparagus
  • Couple tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and fresh pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F
1. Wash asparagus and remove woody stems. Do this by bending each asparagus near the bottom. It will break naturally where the stem is too tough.
2. Place washed and trimmed asparagus on baking pan. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat.
3. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, moving them halfway through for even cooking throughout. When finished, transfer them to another pan like a baking dish to prevent them from overcooking. Do not overcook or the fresh smell will be replaced by a more unpleasant one.

For more recipes and stories, check out my new cookbook “Stories from Morocco: a food and travel memoir” now available through Kindle. 

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