Pappardelle with Salmon, Peas, and Pesto [recipe]

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I admit it, growing up I’ve never liked green peas. I associate them with the mushy frozen peas that are dry with odd texture and have no distinct taste. I love sugar snap and snow peas, and am addicted to sauteed pea shoots, but I was never introduced to fresh English shelling peas until years after I moved to the States. My first taste of fresh peas was at a restaurant, post-college, right when the whole farm-to-table movement started to get popular… A simple plate of pasta – linguine, pancetta, peas, butter, and some herbs. Absolute perfection! The only thought going through my mind that night was “These are green peas? and why aren’t they mushy?!” Mind blown.

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I got these beautiful already-shelled spring peas from the farmers market and couldn’t decide if I want to do a spring pea and mint crostini, pea soup with creme fraiche, or some sort of pasta. Well, if you know me, pasta ultimately wins every single time. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for quite some time and luckily had everything on hand. The result was a very delicious lunch, perfect for a nice and leisurely Sunday.

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Pappardelle with Salmon, Fresh Peas, and Pesto

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

A few notes and modifications:

  • Pappardelle was used instead of tagliatelle. No special reason, just because I had it on hand.
  • I kept the salmon fillets in tact instead of flaking them into smaller pieces. I also kept the crispy salmon skin.
  • I used Greek yogurt and after adding it to the pasta, the yogurt curdled slightly. No big deal but I will suggest to stir the yogurt into the pesto and pea mixture first before tossing with the pasta. A great and more decadent alternative is to use mascarpone cheese in place of yogurt, or add in a little bit of ricotta cheese to help thicken the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pappardelle pasta
  • 1 pound salmon fillet
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoon pesto
  • 1/2 pound frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or mint)
  • grated pecorino cheese, to top pasta

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salty water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.

  2. Meanwhile, in a second skillet or small pot, bring the stock to a boil and add the peas. Cook until the peas are tender, longer if fresh. Stir in the pesto and season with salt and pepper.

  3. In the meantime, rinse and pat dry the salmon fillets. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then cook the salmon skin-side down until 3/4 cooked through and can be flipped easily without sticking. Flip and finish cooking. Don’t overcook the fish!

  4. Drain the pasta and return to its cooking pot. Add the yogurt along with the pea and pesto mixture and the chopped herb. Toss well to combine. (Read above notes regarding yogurt.) Divide into bowls and serve immediately with salmon, top with lots of fresh black pepper and some pecorino cheese. (Enjoy with a nice chilled glass of Pinot Grigio.)

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