Tag Archives: asparagus

Smoked salmon and asparagus creamy pasta

I thought this would be a great moment to introduce a light, but rich and tasty lunch or supper dish.

fanny ad brenda's quick to make salmon and asparagus pasta

With just a few ingredients, most of which will likely be on standby in the fridge anyway, you can prepare this from start to finish in less than 45 minutes. It’s probably only the asparagus you’ll need to pop out for – and speaking of which, this makes a change from serving  this wonderful vegetable as a starter with hollandaise or just butter.

Asides from anything else, we’re currently right in the middle of the English asparagus season so whatever you do, whether it’s part of this recipe or one of your own, do make the most of it. You can get it all year round of course, but I wouldn’t recommend it…… plus I try to do my bit in offsetting Brenda’s vast carbon footprint by avoiding out-of-season pale imitations of the real thing, flown in from Peru.

Ingredients – serves 3-4

340g butter
1 medium onion or shallot – finely diced
1 small glass vermouth/ dry white wine
150g cream cheese/creme fraiche (or mix)
juice ½ lemon
300g asparagus - each spear cut into 3
300g spirali or spaghetti
80g smoked salmon – cut into strips
Olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
3 tsp lumpfish roe/caviar (optional)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill

Method
Do all your prep first, including snapping the slightly woody end off the asparagus spears. If, like me, you had some quite fat ones, I also gently peel the skin at that end but use  a light touch. The “spear” end should always be left as is. Cut each into about 3 pieces.

Melt the butter in a pan, then fry the  onion/shallot for around 5 mins until softened. Then add the wine or vermouth and and boil to reduce to by half – another few mins.

Meanwhile, pop the kettle on and get a pot ready for the pasta and once the water’s boiled, add to the pot and switch on, making sure it’s well-salted and with a good glug of olive oil. Put the pasta in to cook.

Going back to the onion pan, now stir in the crème fraîche and/or cream cheese season and stir through to get a smooth sauce the consistency of custard. Leave to simmer very gently.

When the pasta is three minutes from being cooked, add the asparagus chunks to the boiling pasta. Mine was quite thin linguine which took 6 minutes, therefore I added the veg only three mins after starting to cook it.

While the pasta and asparagus finish cooking,  squeeze in the lemon juice to the creamy wine sauce and toss through the strips of smoked salmon. The hob should now be switched off completely, with the residual heat being more than enough to warm through the salmon and only very slightly cook it.

Drain the pasta/asparagus through a colander, ensuring about 100ml of the pasta water is retained. Now tong the pasta/asparagus through the sauce, ensuring everything is gently, but thoroughly combined. Add enough pasta water to ensure it stays smooth, glossy and  loose – it’s meant to be a delicate Spring eat, plus no-one likes claggy pasta!

Serve  a few twirls onto warmed bowls garnished with a teaspoon of caviar, if using, and a sprinkle of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill.

Asparagus with Hollandaise

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

Given that asparagus has a fairly short season – and April is its peak – I thought it would be remiss of Brenda and I not to show you something made with these perky green spears. This is this quick to make – and feels like a quite exotic dish.

I’ve adapted this from Delia – so you know you’ll be in good hands, if further reassurance is required. This serves 4 and like virtually all other recipes, can be halved/doubled etc, to suit. Allow about 125g asparagus per person. By the way I have roasted the asparagus as I think it keeps in more flavour and is also easier to manage timings-wise; although you can steam or boil yours if you prefer (in which case do it at the end of the process, instead of towards the beginning, as per below)

Ingredients

500g asparagus – just gently bend, and the spears will snap off at the natural divide between the woody “end” which you discard and the tender part you use.
2 large eggs – separated with the yolks in one medium glass bowl and the whites in another
1 dstspn white wine vinegar
1dstspn lemon juice
100g butter
pinch sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
 

Method

Switch the oven on to 200°C and place a knob of butter into an oven dish or tray with sides, just big enough to hold your asparagus spears in a singe layer. Season lightly.

In a small pan, place the 100g butter on the heat and begin to melt gently.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites till light and fluffy – the soft peaks stage is great (you’re not making a meringue so don’t go mad but don’t worry if you do, it won’t really matter…). Leave momentarily to one side.

Place a medium pan containing just an inch or so of water on the hob which should reach no more than a gentle simmer. Place the glass bowl containing the yolks over the pan – season with a pinch of sea salt and a little ground pepper and whisk using the same beaters that you’ve just done your egg whites with. After not much more than a minute, the mix will have turned lighter and already be quite foamy, so you can now go ahead and add the lemon juice and vinegar – continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so.

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

By this time, the butter should have completely melted (take off the heat if done before as you don’t want it going brown or burning). If you need to enlist a friend, great, but the idea is to add the butter fairly gradually (a bit like making mayo) so it doesn’t all split. So long that you’re fairly deft about it, start with a few tablespoons of the butter and whisk in immediately. Keep going adding butter and whisking in – I suppose I combined all the butter into the yolks in about 5 cycles over around 2 mins.

Continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so and take the bowl off the pan of simmering water.. Take about a quarter of the egg whites and whisk into the yolk/butter mixture for just a few seconds, then again for half of the remaining egg white and then the other half (i.e. 3 cycles). You should have a gorgeously smooth, pale yellow, light but creamy and foamy sauce ready to apply to the asparagus. The bowl containing it can be placed back in the pan of  water to keep warm (but the water pan should itself be off the heat)

All of the above takes around 12 mins which is the point where you need to check the asparagus for doneness. It should still be bright green and tender, but not soft. Return for another 2-3 mins if it’s still a bit firm.

Turn out onto a warmed serving dish and coat generously with the sauce and sprinkle with black pepper. Yum.

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com