Fettuccine in Lemon Cream Sauce with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

I don’t normally cook seafood during the week because most of the time I need to pack some leftovers for lunch the next day and reheating seafood can be a little tricky. I do not want to be the person responsible for stinking up the office. One exception to this courteous inclination is a pasta recipe I first read about in my cousin’s blog for pappardelle, asparagus, and smoked salmon in a lemon cream sauce. Not only is this dish delicious, it comes together in about 30 minutes, making it an ideal weekday meal for me.

While the original recipe calls for pappardelle and three tablespoons of butter, I use the much easier to find fettuccine and replace the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for a healthier touch. (The sauce calls for 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Depending on your perspective replacing the butter with olive oil is either pretty worthless or a good effort in combating heart disease.) Additionally, if I have a few frozen peas on hand I throw them in for a little extra green, which, in my view, never hurts.

Fettuccine in Lemon Cream Sauce with Asparagus, Smoked Salmon, and Peas (adapted from epicurious.com)

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound asparagus
2 large shallots
2 lemons
1/4 pound sliced smoked salmon
1 pound dried fettuccine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
DIRECTIONS:
Fill a 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full water and bring to a boil for asparagus and pasta. Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water.

Meanwhile, trim asparagus and diagonally cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, finely chop shallots, finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and squeeze enough juice to measure 3 tablespoons, and cut salmon into 2 x 1/2-inch strips.

When water comes to a boil, salt heavily and cook asparagus until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer to ice water to stop cooking. Reserve water in pot over low heat, covered. Drain asparagus and set aside some asparagus tips for garnish. Return water to a boil and cook pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente and ladle out, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

While pasta is boiling heat deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Cook shallots in butter with salt and pepper to taste until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and zest and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and remove skillet from heat.

Drain pasta in a colander and add to sauce with asparagus, 1/2 cup pasta water, three fourths salmon, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat mixture over low heat, gently tossing (and adding more remaining pasta water as needed if mixture becomes dry), until just heated through.

Serve pasta garnished with reserved asparagus tips and remaining salmon.
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