2014-06-20 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Fourth of July tradition: salmon and peas
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

Salmon and peas have been a pair in New England on the Fourth of July for centuries. The tradition is due to the salmon running just as the fresh peas came up.

This traditional pairing is still very popular today. I wonder if our ancestors knew what a healthy meal they invented – fresh peas from the garden and fresh salmon from the sea. Does it get any better than that?

Seared salmon with leeks and peas

Then ounces fresh or frozen green peas; 5 large leeks, trimmed of dark green, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 6 pieces (6 ounces each) boneless salmon (with skin); salt and pepper to taste; 1 tablespoon unsalted butter; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil; and extra basil for garnish.

In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the fresh peas for three minutes or until tender. If using frozen peas, rinse under cold water to defrost.

Rinse the leeks in a bowl of cold water to remove any grit. Drain in a colander.

Set oven to 300 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the salmon (in two batches, if necessary), skin side down. Cook for four minutes or until golden on the underside. Turn and cook three to four minutes more or until just cooked through.

Use remaining one tablespoon oil to cook remaining salmon in the same way. Set aside two pieces for the pasta. Set the remaining salmon in a heatproof dish and transfer to oven.

Add butter to skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add the leeks, salt and pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, for five minutes.

Stir in the peas, chives and basil into the leek mixture. Set aside two cups for the pasta.

On each of four plates, arrange some of the leek mixture. Place a piece of salmon, skin side up on top. Garnish with basil

Serves four with leftovers for next recipe.

Fettuccine with salmon, leeks and peas

Salt and pepper to taste; 16 ounces dried fettuccine; 3 teaspoons olive oil; 1 shallot, thinly sliced; 3/4-cup heavy cream; 2 cups sautéed leeks and peas; 2 pieces cooked salmon, flaked into 1/2-inch pieces; 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives; and 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fettuccine for eight to 10 minutes, stirring often, until it is tender, but still has some bite.

With a heat-proof measuring cup, remove one cup pasta water. Drain the pasta in a colander. Return the pasta to the pot. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of the olive oil; shake well.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining two teaspoons olive oil. dd the shallots and cook, stirring often, for three minutes or until it starts to brown.

Add the pasta water and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and simmer for one minute. Stir in the leek mixture, salmon, salt and pepper.

Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, for three minutes or until the vegetables and fish are heated through.

Heat the pasta in the pot over medium heat, tossing gently, for two minutes or until hot.

In each of four deep bowls, add some of the salmon mixture. Add pasta, then more salmon mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, chives and basil.

Serves four.

Happy Fourth. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

Return to top