Salmon over Arugula Pasta Salad

by smokinchestnut

When I first saw this recipe, I had an instant vision in my head of how I would like it to look plated. This doesn’t usually happen when I see a recipe. Photographing our meal is often a poste-haste affair of me snapping photos of the plate in a few tried-and-true poses while my stomach is growling with hunger. This method typically yields mediocre results but I also can’t bear beautiful food to be left unphotographed.

But sometimes my brain has a plan. And for this recipe, that plan began with the loveliest flowering chives. So, armed with a couple of perfect purple puffballs and a few extra hours of sunlight, I shot a dish whose end result was as delicious as it was beautiful.

I hit the Perfect Dish trifecta with this recipe, too. It was delicious, it was filling and it was beyond gorgeous. It was also really, really easy but I wouldn’t have been able to use the word “trifecta” if I included that adjective, so I’ll just tack it on at the end. Plus, “easy” is always relative when it comes to me and cooking. Despite having cooked consistently now for 3+ years, I can still become frazzled in the kitchen. Case in point? This recipe.

It’s true that this recipe is very easy – make a rub for the salmon, broil salmon, then grab the rest of the ingredients and set them aside for assembly. However, I like to complicate things by attempting to do EVERYTHING at once, like boiling the pasta while the salmon is broiling while I also attempt to prep the tomatoes and slice the shallots. But broiling salmon can be tricky because it can easily overcook and I did not spend $6.99/lb (a steal, really) for salmon to overcook it.

So while the pasta was boiling furiously away and while the grape tomatoes, shallots and arugula all sat scattered atop my cutting board, I was yelling for Matthew to please come help me. He came in and decided to tackle a simple dijon mustard vinaigrette while I repeatedly (and perhaps over excitedly) stabbed the salmon with a fork to see if it was ready.

“It’s still raw in the middle!! The pasta is almost done and it’s still raw! What if it burns?! I knew I shouldn’t have broiled it!”

I then proceed to massacre the poor (already dead) fish, smushing it with my fork so that the heat could get access to the raw parts. It looked awful but I shoved it back under the broiler and stood up with a triumphant smile.

“THAT SHOULD DO IT!” I told Matthew, with probably a harried, crazed look in my eye.

At the time he was wondering why I was assaulting the salmon like that but one look at my face told him, correctly, not to say anything just then. Just Kristen being normal! I thanked him later for not questioning my brilliance/insanity. This is how marriage works, people!

So lay aside your fear of broilers – I’ll pretend the story I just told did not heighten anyone’s fear of them (or me) – and scrape together this dish for yourself, your family or your friends. The rub for the salmon should not be left out, either. I found the combination of lemon zest, ground cardamom and and kosher salt to be an incredible pairing with salmon.

Also, feel free to add any sauteed vegetables in place of the zucchini. You know me. I have a thing for adding zucchini to recipes.

Salmon over Arugula Pasta Salad
from Food Republic
serves 4

For the Salmon
1 1/2 pounds salmon filet
olive oil
zest of one large lemon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp kosher salt

For the Pasta Salad
1 lb thin spaghetti
olive oil
arugula
grape tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
goat cheese
Optional:
flowering chives (as edible garnish)
light vinaigrette

Preheat broiler. Place salmon on foil-lined baking sheet and paint each filet with olive oil. Combine lemon zest, ground coriander and kosher salt in a bowl. Rub mixture atop each filet and let salmon sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions then drain, toss with olive oil and set aside. Place a skillet on medium-high heat then add sliced zucchini and a bit of olive oil. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly browned. Set aside.

Broil salmon 4-5 inches away from broiler and cook for 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness of the filet. Check to make sure it does not overcook! Let cook slightly then remove and discard the skin.

Plate the dish however you deem fit – start with a plate of pasta then add flaked salmon, zucchini, arugula, grape tomatoes, shallot, goat cheese and flowering chives. Toss with a light vinaigrette if you prefer.

Then eat with restraint, because you never know who might be peeking their head over the table in hopes of a bite or two.