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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Lemony Smoked Salmon Pasta Recipe

Our box of fresh produce was delivered today and in it was a real prize. Green garlic. Green garlic is a fresh, young, green onion-like vegetable. It is very mild and just epitomizes spring. It is only available for a short time, like many other spring treats, and it has a fresh, clean, light flavor and crisp texture. It just tastes like spring.

Most other onions are best cooked, like leeks or yellow onions or raw, like scallions or red onions. But you can use green garlic raw, or you can cook it and unlike other onions, both the green and white parts are delicious to eat. The main thing is not to overcook it, because you want the fresh flavor to come through. It's the perfect thing to top a pizza with or sliver into a salad because there is no "bite" to it. I decided to use the green garlic in a pasta and added some other ingredients I had around the house, especially smoked salmon.

When I was living in Italy, using smoked salmon in pasta was very trendy. Smoked salmon is very good with pasta, but if it cooks, the texture turns dry and crumbly and takes on a fishy taste. The best thing is to prepare the pasta, then top the individual portions with smoked salmon that has just come to room temperature. That way the color, texture and flavor is preserved. Because smoked salmon is such a delicate and elegant ingredient, it pairs well with other delicate ingredients like cream, caviar or cucumber. This pasta combines familiar flavors that you might find on a bagel for breakfast or brunch--smoked salmon, lemon and green oniony flavored green garlic.

Lemony Smoked Salmon Pasta
Serves 4 as a first course or 2 as a main course


1/2 pound gemelli or other corkscrew pasta such as rotini or rotelle
1/2 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch-long pieces
1-2 stalks of green garlic or green onions, slivered
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 lemon, squeezed
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 lb thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut crosswise into thin strips


Put a large pot of water to boil. Blanch the asparagus until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes then scoop out with a slotted spoot, drain and set aside. Cook pasta in the pot of boiling water until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat cream and lemon juice in a large skillet until slightly thickened, then stir in slivered green garlic and remove from heat.

Drain pasta with the asparagus then toss with cream sauce in the skillet. If pasta looks dry, moisten with some of the pasta water. Season with pepper to taste. Top each serving with sliced salmon.