Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wild About Salmon – Presto Pasta Nights

Nearly everyone knows that salmon is good food. High in omega-3, heart-friendly acids, protein and antioxidants, is it among the world’s healthiest fish products. It is, however, also one of the most confusing purchases ever to be made.

Not all salmon is created equally, at least not since humanity developed a proclivity to mass produce food in the same manner as cheap toys in cereal boxes. This is good for neither man nor salmon. Since the discovery and promotion of salmon’s many health benefits, consumer demand has skyrocketed and consequently depleted the supply of the finest salmon, the wild-caught. Salmon living as nature intended, on their own, catching their own wild-caught suppers, are significantly less inclined to carry pollution in their flesh than those raised in penned farms. Farm-raised salmon, now predominant on the market, are routinely fed a diet high in dioxin and PCBs, toxins of particular risk to women of child-bearing years, although no one is exempt from the health implications.

All this can be pretty disheartening and worrisome to the health-conscious consumer, but if we are willing to take note of a number of savvy pointers, there is no reason why we can’t have our salmon and eat it, too.

Pasta with Smoked Salmon - Adapted from


1/2 pound angel hair or other thin, long pasta
1/4 pound smoked salmon, cut into short, thin strips (I purchased wild-caught at Whole Foods.)
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon butter*
1 tablespoon white wine
½ cup half and half*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried parsley
Black pepper


Bring large pot of water to boil. In a large skillet, sauté chopped shallot in butter over low heat until translucent and tender. Add pasta to boiling water pot. While pasta is cooking to your desired tenderness, add salmon strips to the skillet, heating on continued low heat until salmon becomes pale. Add white wine and cook for ½ minute. Add half and half, stirring to heat through. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta and divide onto two plates, spooning sauce over pasta. Scatter lightly with parsley and black pepper.

* You can virtually cut out all saturated fat by substituting olive oil for the butter, and non-fat half and half for the richer version.

Serves 2 --

This post is being submitted to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, the creator of the weekly food blogging event, Presto Pasta Nights. Ruth posts a round-up of recipes from all over the world every Friday.


  1. Somehow I don't think I'd want to cut out the fat. If the salmon's doing all those wonderful things, a little cream and butter can't hurt. Surely...

    A lovely, quick meal.

    Can't get it here I'm afraid - all evil fish farms in these waters.

  2. Hi, Lucy - I agree, but for those who are on austere diets, I think the recipe could adapt without great loss of flavor.

    I'm sorry wild salmon is not available where you are. We all should have a choice.

  3. Of course, you're right. Though this gorgeous meal, without the luscuious fat, would hardly make one feel as though you were eating austerely!

  4. Thanks, Lucy. I did cut back on the original recipe's heavy cream and twice the butter, so I was half good. I try to be careful about what I eat, but I'm no saint.

  5. This is beautiful and just the way I love to eat. Right there with you - I want to be careful/resonable with what I eat but not a saint!

  6. Wild salmon is getting a bit easier to find; Costco occasionally has it, as well as Whole Foods. The taste is so different and so wonderful.

  7. Looks delicious! I love that deep red colour that you get with wild salmon. Stunning!

  8. Susan, this dish is absolutely superb - I'm amazed by how sometimes, just a few ingredients, when properly chosen, can make something so delicious!
    I have never had wild salmon and I'll try to buy some - you've got me curious about it!

  9. Thanks, Tanna. Moderation is key, but it's always walking the middle road that's the hardest. We seem to be wired for either feast or famine.

    Lydia - The salmon for this dish was purchased at Whole Foods. Even so, they have a lot of farm fish.

    Thanks, Freya - The color really is better b/c these fish eat all the "right stuff."

    Muito obrigada, Patricia. I was surprised it was as good as it was considering it was ready in 20 minutes with a handful of ingredients. It just worked. :)

  10. Simple, elegant,tasty and in less than 30 mins, and healthy fat? What else can anyone ask for :)

    Smoked salmon is very expensive here.

  11. The pasta looks absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing it with Presto Pasta Nights.

    Also thanks for sharing the warning about "wild" salmon. It is disheartening to know that more than half the time, things aren't what they seem.

  12. What a beautiful photo! I love salmon in general, but particularly with pasta. And you're so right about the dangers of farm raised salmon.

  13. Thanks, Ruth. PPN was great fun. I'm planning on another very soon. And, yes, the things we don't really know about our food. It never fails to shake me up.

    Thanks, Sher. Good to see you. I was just at Whole Foods today. A mixed bag of salmon at the fish counter, but most of their canned stock was wild caught with prices that varied. At least there's some choice some of the time.

  14. Hi Susan, I found my way here from...where was it?..oh, yes..Jugalbandi. You have quite the collection of healthy, fresh food here!
    This recipe looks to be Sicilian- or am I off? Don't answer that! :-) It looks delicious.

  15. Hi, Pelicano. Welcome! I like a nicely varied, healthy diet, but I'm not always successful. There are plenty of guilty pleasures that I haven't blogged about yet!

    This recipe is definitely Italian, from a restaurant in Rome. I don't know its exact origin, but it could easily be Sicilian. I'd like to make it again with the optional radicchio.

    Good to have you visit. I hope to see you again.

  16. Oh I hear ya! My posts are really not a good indication of everything I make; to do so I'd be posting continuously, and truly my readers would be saying "ho-hum" to much of my daily fare, and as well, since some of my experiments don't immediately work; I just take notes and consider it a "work in progress". :-)