Saturday, April 27, 2013

Seared Salmon with Balsamic Glaze, Creamy Broccoli Pesto Pasta, and Roasted Asparagus with Shallots

Epic.  Not unlike this ridiculously long blog post title.  But 'epic' was my first thought after taking a few bites of this incredible meal.  I'm thrilled there are some leftovers for tonight!  None of these recipes are difficult, or even that time-consuming.  And all of it is worth it. 

It all started with the desire to make homemade pasta again, because it was so fun and tasty.  I wanted to try a new sauce and remembered a broccoli pesto I had seen on Smitten Kitchen that had piqued my interest.  Done.  It turned out great and kind of tasted like a fantastic cream of broccoli soup, but better.

I am a carb-fiend, but the meal needed a bit more, maybe some protein?  I remembered a glazed salmon recipe from Cook's Country that I really wanted to try (and what's more Pacific Northwestern than salmon?)  It was amazing, and the glaze is divine.  I almost licked out the pan it was so good.

Lastly, I thought a vegetable was needed, and it is spring, so bring on the asparagus!  I didn't have any particular expectations about the asparagus, but they turned out really well.  And the tips were the best part (super caramelized).  The husband isn't ever really excited about veggies, let's be honest, but even he seemed pleasantly surprised.

I won't waste any more words on the description.  Just trust me, they're all amazing recipes.  And you should make them.  Really.  That is all!

Homemade Pasta
See this post for directions OR use store-bought noodles!

Creamy Broccoli Pesto Sauce
(from Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 4

1/2 pound broccoli
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (or, more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper or pinches of red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons half and half
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Reserved pasta water to thin sauce

Remove broccoli florets from stems and chop into medium florets. Peel stems with a vegetable peeler (for faster cooking) and slice them into 1/2-inch segments.

Use your pot of future pasta water to steam (by suspending a mesh strainer over your pasta pot and covering it with a lid for 5 to 6 minutes)) or par-boil (for 3 to 5 minutes) your broccoli florets and stems until just tender, then drain if needed and set them aside.

In the bottom of a medium pot, melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add shallots and reduce to medium-low, sauteing it until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add steamed broccoli, salt and red or black pepper and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the shallots and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour half and half over mixture and let cook for 30 seconds.
Transfer broccoli mixture and all of its creamy bits at the bottom of the pan to a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until it’s finely chopped and a little sauce. Don’t worry if it looks dry; that reserved pasta water will give it the sauciness it needs in a minute.

Add the broccoli sauce back to the pot with drained pasta and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture so that it evenly coats the noodles. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt or pepper, and scoop into a serving bowl. Shower noodles with grated parmesan and dig in.

Do ahead: The sauce will keep it in the fridge for several days.

Seared Salmon with Balsamic Glaze
(from Cook's Country)
Serves 4

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sprig rosemary (about 5-inches long)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 skin-on salmon fillets, 6 ounces each, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Whisk vinegar, juice, honey, and pepper flakes together in small bowl, then add rosemary. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Season salmon with salt and pepper and cook, skin side up, without moving, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip fish skin side down and cook until all but very center of fish is opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to platter and tent with foil.

Wipe out pan with paper towels and lower heat to medium. Carefully pour balsamic mixture into pan (it will splatter). Simmer until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig. Whisk in butter, season sauce with salt and pepper, and pour over salmon. Serve.

Roasted Asparagus with Shallots
(from Cook's Country)
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Adjust oven rack to upper position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Stir oil, honey, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Spread asparagus across rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan; drizzle with half of garlic mixture and toss to coat. Rearrange asparagus in single layer. Combine shallots with remaining garlic mixture in bowl and toss to coat. Scatter shallots evenly over asparagus.

Roast until asparagus begins to soften and turns bright green with some dark brown edges, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with vinegar and continue roasting until asparagus is softened and shallots just begins to turn golden brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Toss vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to platter. Serve.


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