It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to cook a delicious meal. This quick pasta dish was inspired by Simona’s insalata di pasta, salmone e pomodori. Her version was made with canned salmon and uncooked tomatoes and served lukewarm by mixing the cooked pasta with the cold sauce. That would certainly lovely too, but since our summer is a bit chilly I decided to cook the sauce. I used fresh salmon and cooked it sous-vide, but that is entirely optional. Sous-vide does make it easier to cook the salmon just right. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings
300 grams (.66 lb) fresh salmon without skin
150 grams (.33 lb) short pasta such as penne or ziti
400 grams (.9 lb) cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp sliced basil, about 12 leaves
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the salmon with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
If using sous-vide, vacuum seal…
…and cook sous-vide for about 30 minutes at 43C/109F. This temperature will result in exceptionally tender and juicy salmon with a buttery texture.
If not using sous-vide, let the salmon sit while you prepare the rest so the salt can penetrate.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. In the meantime, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. There is a neat trick to do this very quickly, for which you will need two flat plates of an appropriate size and a large very sharp chef’s knife. Arrange the tomatoes on a plate in a single layer and put the second plate on top. Depending on the size of your knife you will probably have to work in batches.
Now hold the top plate in place with one hand, while you slice in between the plates with the chef’s knife using your other hand.
Remove the top plate and if everything went well (your knife does need to be sharp for this to work) the tomatoes will all be neatly cut in half.
When the water boils, add salt and the pasta and set the timer for the time indicated on the package for al dente.
In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the garlic clove, cut into 3 or 4 slices. Cook until the garlic is golden, then remove the garlic. This will flavor the oil.
Now add the cherry tomatoes, season with a bit of salt, and cook, stirring regularly, over medium heat until the tomatoes are sweet and tender but not yet falling apart. Then turn off the heat.
Cut the basil into narrow ribbons with a sharp knife. This is easiest when you stack all leaves together and then roll them up. You should slice basil with a sharp knife rather than chopping it, as that would bruise the leaves too much.
Take the salmon out of the sous-vide and out of the bag…
…and break it up with a fork. If not using sous-vide, chop the raw salmon and add it to the tomatoes, cover, and allow the salmon to cook in the residual heat of the tomatoes.
Drain the pasta and add it to the tomatoes, together with the salmon and the grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon.
Add the basil.
Gently toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve at once on preheated plates.
We enjoyed this with a Saint-Aubin, a white Burgundy (Chardonnay) with some oak. Another chardonnay with a bit of oak would work as well.
Stir-fried chicken and eggplant with red curry paste is a delicious Thai dish and one of my favorites, as the eggplant soaks up the curry flavor and it all works beautifully together.