When it came to comfort foods, I was an odd kid. I’d come home from school and dump a can of French-style green beans into a bowl, microwave it, and eat the whole thing (yes, just a bowl of French-style canned green beans. Delish). I’d stop at the deli across the street and buy a whole pickle – you know, the ones that you get from the big jars behind the counter – and then settle down in front of Duck Tales with a bowl of salt, into which I would dip the pickle.
And then there was my favorite dinner: a recipe that I’m going to credit to my mother that involved…wait for it…
(My mother is going to say that she didn’t microwave salmon. This will be a lie; what a microwave smells like after fish has been cooked in it is not a thing one forgets.)
What my mother did with the salmon after she microwaved it (which, in her defense, creates an effect akin to poaching) was flake it into marinara sauce (Prego, obvi), and serve it over spaghetti. It was not pretty. It was not fancy. It was, however, DELICIOUS.
So when I was trying to figure out which reader recipe I wanted to make next and came across this submission from Tess which sounded, basically, like a grown-up version of my mom’s salmon spaghetti, I was psyched – and doubly psyched because salmon and pasta are two of my children’s primary food groups, so I knew there’d be zero complaining about dinner that night. I made a few tweaks to Tess’s recipe to suit my personal taste – a little extra tomato paste, a little white wine – and sat down with a bowlful only to discover that yes: it was like traveling back in time via fish. (We even watched Duck Tales while we ate dinner, just to bring it full-circle.)
TESS’S SALMON & SPINACH FETTUCCINE (serves 4)
What You Need:
- 1 large salmon filet (8 oz or so)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp tomato paste*
- 1-2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
- A few handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 box fettuccine (or pasta of choice)
*Next time I’m going to also add a can of diced tomatoes for more tomato-y flavor in the sauce.
What You Do:
- Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted boiling water. Reserve a little of the pasta water in case you need it later.
- While the pasta cooks, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet. Pat the salmon filet dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the salmon skin side-down for 5-6 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of white wine to the pan, let simmer for about 30 seconds (until the alcohol cooks off), and then add the cream, tomato paste, diced tomatoes (if using), bouillon powder, and baby spinach to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- For a few minutes (until the spinach wilts and the sauce is heated through), sort of mix it all together while breaking up the salmon so it flakes into the sauce. If the sauce needs to be thinned a bit, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.
- Serve over fettuccine, and consume whilst watching your favorite childhood show (Tiny Toons is also highly recommended).