sexy salmon squid ink pasta

I can’t believe I’m sharing this recipe to be honest… Everyone has that recipe they don’t share. Or don’t completely share (leaving out one key ingredient so it’s a treasure when only they make it) and this would be mine except… I want to share it. Down to the last ingredient. It is the BEST PASTA WE HAVE EVER HAD. And, you can manipulate the protein or omit it all together.

Turns out, as with most pasta dishes, it’s all about the seasonings. And the sauce.

So here we go.

You Will Need:

* Squid Ink Pasta (otherwise known as “seppia” – or you can get squid ink and make the pasta fresh yourself. You will want a long noodle in my opinion, but go with what you can find. We find ours at Fresh Market, World Market, once at a spice shop here in town and most recently, the best noodles – which you will find in my other squid ink pasta recipe here, through this store online. They typically ship between 24-48 hours.)

* Rao’s Bolognese Pasta Sauce

* Whole Foods Fat Free Marinara Sauce (I know that reads as “bland” but, they put some of the best seasonings in there – it’s a clean sauce that has no fat and all flavor. Buy extra as they sell out quick. When I was recovering from pancreatitis I had this sauce with Jovial fat free pasta almost every day. Cured my condition in under a month contracted during a stent removal for a gallstone. That’s how I even know about the sauce to begin with.)

* Dried Oregano

* Ginger Powder

* Salt and Pepper

* Coconut Aminos

* Baby Kale (optional – can also use baby spinach or omit entirely)

* Yellow Squash (I know you’re thinking – squash? Really? We’ve tried all other veggies in here: eggplant, zucchini, tomato – even omitting the squash entirely. It’s not the same; it adds something. Two squash per one packet of pasta)

* Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon (you can omit the salmon and try ground turkey, ground beef, kielbasa, shrimp… or just have the veggie. The salmon adds some extra fat needed and the flavor with the briney squid ink is incomparable) **MAKE SURE WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR SALMON, YOU KEEP IT FROZEN TILL YOU BAKE IT** Do not defrost

* Parchment Paper

* One Tablespoon and One Teaspoon Measurement

We get our salmon from Vital Choice usually exclusively. When I was dealing with a histamine intolerance (if you suspect you have that as well, I have a whole section in this blog for recipes which will help you here titled “Low Histamine”), I researched which seafood was the cleanest. This company won hands down. They are the only company with as much product as they have (and they have more than you’d expect, including vitamins) and still maintain the cold-chain barrier. VITALLY important to keeping histamines and unwanted bacteria from entering our food and then our bodies).

We also stress it’s important no matter where you get your salmon, to only eat wild caught. If you decide not to order online and live near a Trader Joe’s they have two filets per packet of Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon at around $6.49-$8.01 depending on the weight in their freezer section. We just happened to realize the cost savings of getting this size filet, cooking it all and then dividing into separate 6 oz portions.

However you get your salmon, place it over some parchment paper three times larger than the salmon itself (large filet or separate filets) so you can make a pocket holding everything in while it cooks.

Lay your salmon in the middle of the parchment and start cutting your squash. Wash the squash but leave the skin on. Again, two squash per one packet of pasta (we use one 6 oz portion of salmon per person). After cutting one squash, throw it on one side of the salmon.

Cut the other squash and throw it on the other side.

Should you get a filet like we did, or several, with the skin on – leave it skin side up. It’s easier to remove the skin when it’s done.

Take a tablespoon and pour one tablespoon of coconut aminos over each section of the squash. One tablespoon of aminos per squash section. Do not try to get any aminos on the salmon at this point as while it cooks it will grab all those juices and you’ll be adding the juices to the pot of pasta. Yum.

No additional seasonings are needed. If you choose to not have any veggies or protein at all, just noodles and sauce, add two tablespoons of coconut aminos to the sauce when you start warming it up which I will explain below.

Now, take each end of the parchment and the sides and squish everything into a packet. Tucking in the ends underneath the best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to feel “closed”.

You will cook this on 350 for 50 minutes – MAKE SURE THE SALMON IS FROZEN.

50 minutes may sound like a long time to wait for dinner but this is the perfect amount of time for me. I use this time to clean up, set the table, chill the wine, pick the movie, etc. And at about the thirty min mark, I start the water to boil.

TIP: If you start with hot water the water will boil faster. I know this doesn’t seem revolutionary but you’d be surprised how many people this didn’t yet occur to. Also, you do NOT need salt nor oil in the water. We’re trying to keep the oil and salt to an absolute minimum. There is enough salt in the coconut aminos and salty flavor in the noodles.

Above is a close-up of the noodles we used where you can see the word “seppia”, although the black color should and would be the best indicator that you purchased squid ink pasta as intended. These were the brand found at our local Fresh Market.

In the meantime, while the salmon and veggies cook, and the water is starting to boil, I set the table. I like to use the dining table we have in our living room to eat and watch movies. We have a puppy who hasn’t yet mastered the art of fine dining – let alone ANY table manners lol – so when we eat like this, we need to be up high enough she can’t gobble up our dinners.

Though she does try!

I sometimes like to use the coffee table to place the wine and extra waters if needed. The apartment layout we chose gave the lion’s share of the space to the kitchen leaving enough room for a large couch, coffee table and small dining table with two chairs BUT, it still feels like a small triumph when I can move the table and chairs to have what feels like a dine-in movie experience.

We chose a Pinot Noir and one of our favorites is by Erath.

The noodles should have been dropped and almost done by now. You’ll want them al dente as they will continue to cook for just a few minutes in the sauce while you bring the sauce up to temp.

Strain your noodles not reserving any of the starchy liquid at all. Drop them back in the pot and add both jars of pasta sauces.

Now here’s where we begin to build the incredible flavors. We started with the salty pasta noodles, then added the oddly amazing no sugar or fat marinara from Whole Foods, layering then with Rao’s Bolognese – and now get your teaspoon out. Do not yet stir anything

Add to the sauces and pasta noodles BEFORE stirring, two teaspoons of ground ginger and two teaspoons of dried oregano. You will then add just a bit of sea salt and some black pepper. Remember, there’s plenty of salt in the coconut aminos – so, use the salt, yes but, you’ll need less than you think. I add a liberal amount of black pepper.

We use baby kale in our pasta recipe. You don’t have to but after it wilts down, it’s just a way to get some extra veggies in you and the color green looks so pretty against the pink salmon and black noodles. So if you did decide to use kale or spinach make sure it is BABY kale or spinach.

Also, regardless of which you choose, you’ll want to give the leaves a quick chop to make them a bit smaller and to help with the wilting and keep them bite-sized.

Throw your handfuls into the pot and now stir, leaving the pot on a simmer (medium low / low) just to bring the sauce up to temp and wilt the leaves. Keep the lid on.

At this point the salmon will be just a few minutes from being done or have already finished cooking. If it finished before you even got the leaves into the pot that’s okay, happens to me all the time. Whenever the salmon is done and if you’re not yet ready, just keep the oven on 160 degrees for as long as you think makes sense for finishing up your prep. I typically add 30 mins to the clock as I want to get everything wilted, the sauce heated and for whatever reason a movie has STILL not yet been chosen lol

We also have a puppy we need to feed… Which does take a second as she really only wants what she’s smelling 🙂 I never really need the whole 30 minutes but, leaving the food on 160 degrees keeps it from continuing to cook, it also keeps it warm without any bacteria starting to form. I use this trick at every dinner party.

So, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax. You’re almost done.

Remember, this is not a sprint. It’s a gorgeous Italian dish and in most Italian homes meals are tended to all…day…long. My husband entrances me with stories of Sunday dinners he would have with his family and extended family, so big they would take up an entire basement. Several courses would be had with actual naps in between. This meal tastes like a typical Italian Sunday dinner but it cooks in under an hour.

Even so, slow down. Enjoy this. Take your time to breathe – to set the table if you wanted to, to smell all the seasonings bubbling softly on the stove… This isn’t just any pasta dish. You had to look for those noodles, you had to cook gorgeous filet(s), you worked on layering the flavors… Be present. You’re going to want to build up the savor… It’s a special meal.

When you have checked under the lid of the pot and the lettuce looks wilted enough, take your salmon out of the stove and open the parchment.

Because the salmon is still warm, the skin (if you got salmon with the skin still on) will come off very easily.

I was only feeding myself and my husband so when I cut each piece into filets I made sure to set aside in a separate container the additional pieces. I only needed two filets for the pasta. Understanding that we did not between the two of us, finish off the entire pot of salmon pasta, this is just the measurement I use and you can decide how much salmon you want to have.

After you’ve portioned out your pieces (should they not already be in filet form), break each portion up and stir it in with the juices, the coconut aminos and the squash.

Open the lid to the pasta pot and bring the pan with the salmon and veggies over to the pot. You’re going to lift the parchment paper and dump everything in the pot. Including all the sauce.

Stir and you can leave everything on medium low / low till you’re ready to plate. The dish is done 🙂

This is when I make sure the candles are lit, the movie is picked, the puppy is fed, the wine is poured, the water is still cold… I literally let everything sit until I know we’re ready to eat.

Now we plate. If you chose to use pasta dishes, just plop a healthy helping inside. I wanted to use these particular dishes so I had to be more strategic in how I plated. Using a large soup ladle, I was able to spin the pasta with tongs in one hand into the ladle in the other and plate that way.

Whatever works!

You can see all the salmon and the squash peeking out from under the beautiful black noodles. It almost looks as though there is no sauce but it has attached itself to the noodles.

You may now understand, after seeing all the ingredients, how this is an incredible pasta. The flavor profiles with the coconut aminos, the saltiness from the noodles mixed with the ginger and deep earthy notes from the oregano… It all compliments the combination of sauces and of course, you get the squash which is a bright note in all the heaps of flavor.

Dishes are from Williams Sonoma, Chargers and Floral Garland are from Efloral. Crystal Napkin Rings are from Replacements, Crystal Glasses and Ice Bucket (vase) are from Waterford. Silverware are Napoleon Bee, Linens are from Bed Bath and Beyond. Blue and White Elephants are from Tortoise and Hare (etsy). Candelabra is from CB2. Candles are from Roots (made in America). Silver Trays are heirloom.

Should you have leftovers because it’s just yourself and someone else (like we have here), eat this the next day… It tastes even better as it sits a bit and collects itself. And then, go ahead and freeze the remaining portions. We don’t always have a lot of room in our freezer so we use one gallon freezer bags for our soups and pastas. We can fill them, close them and lay them flat over other items easily. Just mark what it is and the date. Depending on what protein you used, it should last in the freezer but, double-check based on what you chose to use. Don’t just mark the date of the day you froze the leftovers, also list the “best eaten by” date as well so you don’t forget. And, if you can, try to arrange your freezer so you have the items you need to eat sooner rather than later closer to arms reach. If you plan to portion out servings from the freezer, do that ahead of time with the bags. You never want to, with any food, freeze something cooked, defrost it all, eat just some and then refreeze. Consider who you’re feeding and plan accordingly. We would probably freeze these in separate bags so we can pull out two servings for another night a few weeks from now, leaving the rest in the freezer.

I can’t hardly wait…

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