Dinner with Kirsten

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From Donut to Health Nut: My Italian Salmon Dinner

June 11th, 2008 · 58 Comments

salmon with pasta

My idea of a “diet” is eating more apples than donuts on any given day. But it’s swimming suit season once again, that time of year when winter’s excesses are destined to be displayed for fellow beach-goers, making me wonder if I had to eat quite so many cookies and burgers this year. So anyway, I’ve been staying away from donuts (or at least trying to). But I’m running out of time—it’s been horribly hot lately, and I can tell a trip to the beach is imminent!

I always think of myself as a reasonably healthy eater, but in fitness magazines, the skinny girl dinner of choice is always carefully-portioned grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. If that’s what it takes to be thin, then I really don’t have the will to make it happen. But I have started putting my gym membership to good use, and I’m having fun with the idea of extra “healthy” meals.

In honor of my new job, working with Food Network, I decided to make a Giada De Laurentiis recipe from Everyday Italian. When I grow up I want to be just like Giada. She’s beautiful, Italian, eloquent and the girl can cook. Her recipes always look fairly simple and somewhat healthy—the premise of her show, I suppose. But heck, if she eats it, it can’t be that fattening!

I made this recipe with some amazing salmon I bought at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. And I used Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta (I bought it by accident thinking it was whole wheat, but it worked great and tasted much better than I thought it would). And I didn’t use any basil (Geoff has a huge basil plant, but I guess it has some bugs on it now that “we” didn’t want to eat—Me: “Can’t we just wash the bugs off!?”)

The most revolutionary part of this recipe is that it’s served over raw spinach. I didn’t know what to expect, but it added a refreshing crunch and a bright flavor. The lemon-caper pasta sauce complemented the salmon perfectly and dressed the spinach at the same time. All the flavors were well balanced. If this is healthy eating, I’ll be skinny in no time.

salmon pasta close

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon (with Shrimp)
Adapted from Food Network’s Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis
1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti pasta (I accidentally used brown rice pasta, but it worked out fine.)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14-ounce) or 2 (7-ounce) pieces salmon
4-5 large shrimp, optional (I added these in for fun. I love Trader Joe’s raw frozen shrimp in the shell.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional (I left the basil out, but I’ll definitely try it next time!)
3 tablespoons capers
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add salt to taste. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite (al dente), stirring occasionally (Loosely follow package instructions for time estimate, but start checking the pasta’s doneness early). Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.

While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the fish to the pan and cook until medium-rare, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the salmon from the pan. If using one large piece, cut in half lengthwise.

Add the basil, capers, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the spaghetti mixture and toss to combine. Set out 2 serving plates or shallow bowls. Place 1/2 cup spinach in each bowl. Top with the pasta and place a piece of salmon on top of each. Serve immediately.

Tags: dinner · italian · quick fix · recipes · salad · seafood

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