Some food combinations are classics and some are downright weird. Peanut butter and jelly is a classic, chocolate and mint is a classic, salmon and dill is a classic, pumpkin pie and banana cream pie is downright weird. Pumpkin pie and banana cream pie may sound like a strange combination, but seriously, it’s good. If you ever get the chance… Give it a go.
Anyway, today we’re going to talk about salmon and dill. They are a delightfully savoury and European combination. Here, the traditional dill and salmon combination is accompanied by fresh lemon pepper, briny capers, robust garlic, and fruity olive oil. All these flavours are wrapped up around al dente rigatoni, whose ridges act perfectly for trapping the dill weed and garlic.
Salmon is one of my most favourite fish that also has a bountiful health profile to boot. It is high in protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fish, of course, is ideal; but it can also be quite pricey. I almost always use canned salmon for its price and for its availability. If you can, use fresh by all means! No doubt it will make this dish absolutely divine. I would recommend cooking it simply; my favourite method is the good old barbecue.
Salmon Rigatoni with Lemon Pepper
Adapted slightly from my aunt
14-oz can of salmon, drained, and picked through for skin and bones
1 pound rigatoni or other short pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil*
4 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon freshly ground lemon pepper**
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
lemon wedges, to serve
First off, de-bone and de-skin your salmon, trying to keep the pieces as whole as possible. Set aside.
In a very large pot, bring plenty of water to a boil. Salt the water and dump in your pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside (there’s no need to rinse off the pasta, the next few steps come to fruition quickly).
Replace the pot on the burner over medium heat and allow any remaining water to evaporate. Pour in olive oil and toss in garlic and capers. Saute very briefly, only about 30 seconds. Add in salmon and saute gently for about 2 minutes. Toss the pasta on top of the salmon and sprinkle in the lemon pepper and dill weed. Toss very gently to combine and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve immediately with lemon juice and a fresh salad.
*A good sub here is a garlic-infused olive oil; Trader Joe’s sells a particularly good one.
**I use Trader Joe’s lemon pepper in a grinder. If you can’t use freshly ground, you might want to up the lemon pepper a bit.