Friday, May 20, 2016

Cold Pasta Salad with Smoked Salmon, Peas and Asparagus

Last Year's Post:  Melon ribbon Bowls
Two Years Ago:   Edamame Spread

Cold pasta salads are ideal warm weather food because you can do the cooking in the morning (or night before) so you don't have to heat up the kitchen that evening.  This one is light (sour cream, no mayo) and healthy with the salmon and veggies, and herbs and lemon rind add bright notes to the overall flavor profile.  One pot does the work of cooking asparagus, peas and pasta so clean-up is fast.

Look for relatively slender fresh asparagus in the market for the best flavor and texture, and make sure you don't overcook it - it should be crisp-tender, not soft.  Taste a piece shortly before you think it should be done to make sure.

The key to this salad is the quality of the veggies and salmon - buy the best and freshest that you can find and it will be excellent.

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Cold Pasta Salad with Smoked Salmon, Peas and Asparagus
Serves 4

½ bunch slender asparagus, trimmed
½ cup frozen peas
1/2 shallot, minced
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces orchiette or bowtie pasta
6 ounces chopped or flaked smoked salmon
1/4 cup chopped chives
Dill sprigs, garnish
Cucumber slices and lemon wedges, optional garnishes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cut the tips off the asparagus stems, and then cut the stems into 1” pieces.  Drop the asparagus stems and the peas in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then add the asparagus tips and boil for an additional 30 seconds.  Remove the vegetables from the water using a spider (strainer) and immediately drop in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  (Do not discard the boiling water.) Drain the vegetables, pat dry, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, vinegar, lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper. Add the shallots and whisk to combine.

In the same pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente (add some salt to the water if desired). Drain and rinse with cold running water. Drain again well. Toss with the sauce, peas, asparagus and salmon. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Before serving, toss with the chives. Garnish with dill sprigs and optional cucumber slices and lemon wedges and serve.

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