Cajun Salmon Pasta

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to putter around in the kitchen - chopping, slicing, dicing, and generally playing around with my food. I don’t like to rush things. Taking my time while making a meal is one the many things in this wacky life that brings me joy. But sometimes, even I need to get something on the table in a hurry. So what if  I was binge watching old Survivor episodes and forgot about time until I started to feel a little woozy from hunger? That’s where this delicious cajun salmon recipe comes in. It’ll be ready in less than thirty minutes from the first dice to delicious dinner! But, I guess should probably have a piece of cheese first, so I don’t pass out... But then it’s on!

The cajun seasoning is something you can make ahead and keep on hand in an airtight container. The recipe makes half a cup or so, and you only need about a tablespoon total for the full meal. So if you want to use store bought cajun seasoning, I think that’s fine. But if you want to make your own, it’s amazing on fish, chicken, steak, even vegetables. You’ll totally get lots of use out of it, with all its tasty goodness. Plus, you made it yourself! That makes it more delicious.

Cajun Seasoning
 2 tbsp smoked paprika
 1 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt
 1 tbsp garlic powder
 2 tsp onion powder
 2 tsp cayenne
 2 tsp ground black pepper
 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
 1 tsp dried thyme
Salmon and Pasta
 12 oz pasta (of your choice. I chose spaghetti because I love a good twirl, but penne or gemelli would be great too.)
 1 lb salmon, cut into four filets
 1 tbsp olive oil
 1 shallot, finely diced
 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
 ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, diced (the kind packed in oil)
 4 cloves grated garlic
 ½ cup broth (chicken, seafood, or vegetable will work equally well here)
 Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (save the other half to squeeze on top of each serving)
 1 ½ tsp cajun seasoning
 1 ½ cups heavy cream (I wouldn’t recommend using milk or a milk alternative here as it might curdle with the lemon juice. Yuck.)
 ½ cup finely grated parmesan
 Parsley, for fancy reasons

Cajun Seasoning
1

This part is crazy easy. Gather all of your cajun seasoning ingredients and mix them together. Store in an airtight container for later use. Done! You’re a spice wizard.

Salmon and Pasta
2

Mise en place time! Finely dice the shallot and red bell pepper. Approach it however is most comfortable and easy for you, as long as the pieces end up relatively tiny. Set aside. Then roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, just to make them a bit more bite-size. Set that aside. Lastly, get a lemon and zest about half of it. Cut it in half and set aside one of the halves for later. For the other half, squeeze out all the juice you can into a little bowl with the zest. Aaand set that all aside. Done! Now you’re ready.

3

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Starting the boil in advance means that you can just toss the pasta into the water when it’s time. The sauce should only take bout 10-12 minutes to make, in total. Whenever the water is at a good rolling boil, toss some salt in there to make sure the pasta is seasoned! Your pasta water should be salty as the sea, as they say. I’ll tell you when to add the pasta. Stay tuned.

4

If your fishmonger (Yes even the fishmonger at your Mega Market can be called a fishmonger, okay? Because I wanna say fishmonger. Fishmonger.) did not remove the skin from the salmon, do that now. (There are great videos on the Inter Webs on how to do that.) Double check it for any sticky stray scales, then season the salmon on all sides with the cajun seasoning.

5

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cast iron does a particularly good job of searing, so use that if you have it. Cook the filets for 2-3 minutes on the first side, just until the cooked portion has crept up about 1/3 of the way up into the filet at its thickest part. Once it reaches that 1/3 point, gently turn them over and cook for 2 minutes on the second side. You don’t want to overcook it at this stage because it will be going into the sauce at the end, which will cook it just a little more. Once they’re beautifully seared and cooked through, remove salmon from the pan and set aside on a plate.

6

In the same pan as you cooked your fish, sauté the shallot and red bell pepper that you prepped earlier for a couple of minutes until they’re slightly softened. Add in your chopped sun dried tomatoes, and use a microplane or grater to grate in all 4 cloves of garlic and sauté for another minute or so.

Now would be a great time to start your pasta!

7

Gather your broth of choice, the lemon juice and zest that you prepped earlier, and your delicious cajun seasoning. Add them all to the pan and allow to reduce for a minute or two while stirring occasionally. Make sure to use a spatula so you can scrape up all those tasty bits from the pan. Yum. Add in the heavy cream and the parmesan and allow the sauce to bubble up and reduce until your pasta is ready. Stir occasionally. The sauce won’t be too thick, but the pasta is going to soak some of that up, so we want it kind of saucy.

8

Add in about half of the salmon and break it up a bit to warm it. Once the pasta is ready, strain it and add it directly to the sauce. Toss well to coat evenly. Top with the rest of the salmon and break it up with your fingers a bit to make it pretty.

Serve up and garnish with parsley leaves (it’s not just fancy, it adds a great freshness) and lemon wedges. You did it! Now go enjoy.

Ingredients

Cajun Seasoning
 2 tbsp smoked paprika
 1 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt
 1 tbsp garlic powder
 2 tsp onion powder
 2 tsp cayenne
 2 tsp ground black pepper
 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
 1 tsp dried thyme
Salmon and Pasta
 12 oz pasta (of your choice. I chose spaghetti because I love a good twirl, but penne or gemelli would be great too.)
 1 lb salmon, cut into four filets
 1 tbsp olive oil
 1 shallot, finely diced
 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
 ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, diced (the kind packed in oil)
 4 cloves grated garlic
 ½ cup broth (chicken, seafood, or vegetable will work equally well here)
 Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (save the other half to squeeze on top of each serving)
 1 ½ tsp cajun seasoning
 1 ½ cups heavy cream (I wouldn’t recommend using milk or a milk alternative here as it might curdle with the lemon juice. Yuck.)
 ½ cup finely grated parmesan
 Parsley, for fancy reasons

Directions

Cajun Seasoning
1

This part is crazy easy. Gather all of your cajun seasoning ingredients and mix them together. Store in an airtight container for later use. Done! You’re a spice wizard.

Salmon and Pasta
2

Mise en place time! Finely dice the shallot and red bell pepper. Approach it however is most comfortable and easy for you, as long as the pieces end up relatively tiny. Set aside. Then roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, just to make them a bit more bite-size. Set that aside. Lastly, get a lemon and zest about half of it. Cut it in half and set aside one of the halves for later. For the other half, squeeze out all the juice you can into a little bowl with the zest. Aaand set that all aside. Done! Now you’re ready.

3

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Starting the boil in advance means that you can just toss the pasta into the water when it’s time. The sauce should only take bout 10-12 minutes to make, in total. Whenever the water is at a good rolling boil, toss some salt in there to make sure the pasta is seasoned! Your pasta water should be salty as the sea, as they say. I’ll tell you when to add the pasta. Stay tuned.

4

If your fishmonger (Yes even the fishmonger at your Mega Market can be called a fishmonger, okay? Because I wanna say fishmonger. Fishmonger.) did not remove the skin from the salmon, do that now. (There are great videos on the Inter Webs on how to do that.) Double check it for any sticky stray scales, then season the salmon on all sides with the cajun seasoning.

5

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cast iron does a particularly good job of searing, so use that if you have it. Cook the filets for 2-3 minutes on the first side, just until the cooked portion has crept up about 1/3 of the way up into the filet at its thickest part. Once it reaches that 1/3 point, gently turn them over and cook for 2 minutes on the second side. You don’t want to overcook it at this stage because it will be going into the sauce at the end, which will cook it just a little more. Once they’re beautifully seared and cooked through, remove salmon from the pan and set aside on a plate.

6

In the same pan as you cooked your fish, sauté the shallot and red bell pepper that you prepped earlier for a couple of minutes until they’re slightly softened. Add in your chopped sun dried tomatoes, and use a microplane or grater to grate in all 4 cloves of garlic and sauté for another minute or so.

Now would be a great time to start your pasta!

7

Gather your broth of choice, the lemon juice and zest that you prepped earlier, and your delicious cajun seasoning. Add them all to the pan and allow to reduce for a minute or two while stirring occasionally. Make sure to use a spatula so you can scrape up all those tasty bits from the pan. Yum. Add in the heavy cream and the parmesan and allow the sauce to bubble up and reduce until your pasta is ready. Stir occasionally. The sauce won’t be too thick, but the pasta is going to soak some of that up, so we want it kind of saucy.

8

Add in about half of the salmon and break it up a bit to warm it. Once the pasta is ready, strain it and add it directly to the sauce. Toss well to coat evenly. Top with the rest of the salmon and break it up with your fingers a bit to make it pretty.

Serve up and garnish with parsley leaves (it’s not just fancy, it adds a great freshness) and lemon wedges. You did it! Now go enjoy.

Cajun Salmon Pasta

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