One of my favorite summer-time recipes I make is by Giada De Laurentis: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Salmon, Lemon and Basil. It is light and healthy, but very satisfying, as well—perfect for lunch or a late summer evening. ——I’ve added my own personal twist to her original, so be on the look-out for my notes in italics:
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Salmon, Lemon and Basil
- 1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti pasta (I use whole grain pasta. The whole wheat/whole grain pasta is important in this dish as it imparts a nutty flavor.)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Make sure this is your favorite olive oil, you really taste it in this recipe. Here’s a link to one we love: Frantoia)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning (sea salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 – (4-ounce) pieces salmon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (I prefer a mix of arugula and spinach or if using just one, the arugula is my favorite.)
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
I love nuts and thought I’d try adding pine nuts to the mix and I have to say, I think it makes the dish. I’ve been meaning to write Giada and tell her! I’m guessing about a 1/2 cup for four people, but I usually just grab a big handful and toast them in my toaster oven for a couple of minutes.
As always, I recommend using the freshest, purest ingredients available: organic, grass-fed, non-gmo…take the time, do your research and support those growers/suppliers/vendors that care about your health and the health of our planet.
While the water is coming to a boil, I mix the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper together so the flavors can start to infuse the oil. Then, make sure when the pasta is cooked (al dente!) that you immediately put the (drained) hot pasta on top of the olive oil and toss to combine. The heat of the pasta will help all the flavors come together.
I use my grill pan to cook the salmon, but however you cook it, make sure you get enough initial heat to sear, making it crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. I cook the salmon and have it resting/waiting a couple of minutes rather than having the pasta waiting for the salmon, but either way…everything should only take a few minutes prep.
Note: Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water. When you add the pasta to the olive oil mixture, allow a little pasta water too. The starchy pasta water is essential in bringing pasta sauces together…so always allow and/or add a bit to your sauce and always save at least an additional cup or so just in case. It’s great to have if you need to re-heat/revive a bit before serving.
You can also drizzle a little more olive oil over the pasta after adding the basil and lemon if you see it needs it. I usually finish with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. You can reserve a bit of fresh basil to top/garnish, too.
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