Monday, June 27, 2011

Peas + Salmon Pasta Salad

I got some fresh shelling peas at the farmer's market this weekend. My almost 9 month old son thinks it's great to smoosh them with his fingers, roll them around in his mouth and throw them from his highchair. And I think that fresh peas taste fabulous with pasta salad and salmon. So, why not whip up a salmon, pea, pasta salad and call it fresh and summery. That is just what this recipe is, a crowd pleaser for mature tastes. Also, this recipe is a great way to start using some of those beautiful and tasty fresh herbs. I have an herb garden and love to prune and pick some daily to use in recipes. I just love how fresh herbs will flavor and nourish all in the same bite. Plus, when cooking gluten and dairy-free you sometimes just need a little something to put some shine and hollar into your dish.
Some people are curious in how to use fresh herbs. Well, let's just say that parsley, basil and cilantro make anything fresh taste even fresher. So experiment with fresh herbs, you really can't go that wrong. You will learn what pairs well with what, and if not.... search around on the internet for a while and I bet you could come up with some yummy fresh herb recipes to try.
In the meantime, I will be shelling my peas to enjoy. They are so cute and sweet. Hm... my favorite way to eat them is out of the pod, but also they taste best and are "cooked" by steaming. Just steam them (or you could boil) for just a few minutes until them become bright green, and then you know they are cooked enough. Something incredible about the pea is that they are packed with protein. A cup of peas has around 5 grams of protein...which is a nice amount for any small green thing. So, if you haven't shelled your own peas before, I suggest you find a local farmer (maybe at a local farmer's market?) and buy some of these sweet thing from them. Try something new. It's fun and its a lot more interesting than buying peas in a can or bag. I can promise you that. ***There are also snow peas and sweet peas that you can buy that can be eaten in the pods they come in and are a bit different than shelling peas.***
And, here I am going on and on about peas. But this salad also contains the great protein source of salmon. I used 2- 6 ounce cans of wild caught (skinless and boneless) salmon in this dish. But you could also use a fresh 10-12 ounce cooked salmon steak. Salmon is one of my favorite proteins because it contains so much rich flavor, and also a great amount of omega 3 fatty acids....which I know my body could use more of being a nursing momma. This salad will keep you moving and does not disappoint! So it seems like I should get to this recipe already and stop blabbing about herbs, peas and salmon. You gotta love fresh food!
Peas+Salmon Pasta Salad Recipe
1 cup of lightly steamed green peas
*may be called sweet peas, but make sure if you buy peas in pods that they are shelling peas
1 cup of finely diced celery
1 cup of finely diced scallions or green onion (also found fresh at market this week)
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley (or sub some cilantro as well)
*fresh oregano, basil and thyme could also be added for a touch more flavor
2 TB of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 TB of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of organic mayonnaise (or non-egg option of veganaise)
1 TB of curry powder
enough sea salt and pepper to taste

Mix in a large mixing bowl the above green things, seasonings and "salad dressing" together. Mix well and then add the salmon...

2- 6 ounce cans of wild caught salmon (boneless and skinless is less hassle).
*Or use the cooked salmon meat from a 10-12 ounce salmon steak.

Make sure you mix well, and then add the already cooked 16 ounces of gluten-free pasta. It can still be warm from boiling, and in fact the warm pasta will help absorb the flavors as it cools together.

16 ounces of cooked al dente brown rice gluten-free pasta (my favorite is tinkyada pasta)
*I used shells for this salad, but any of the pasta shapes could do.

Add in the pasta and then still all together. Mix well and make sure not to allow pasta breakdown (that means you cooked it too long!) Mix well, and then add fresh herbs and lemon on top to serve. Viola- dinner, or lunch is served!

Some Notes:
*I find this recipe very simple and satisfying. Lots of protein, and easily packed up and brought to cookouts, picnics or in the fridge for lunch for a few days.

*Also, if you are avoiding mayonnaise for any reason, you can omit it, and just add 1/4 cup of olive oil and more lemon juice. It will be less "creamy" but you will still enjoy all of the same flavors.

*I find this salad to be a one-dish meal. Very satisfying. Yet, if you wanted to spoon some over fresh lettuce or greens, that would just be perfect. No need for bread or any more starch...just add some fresh lettuce.

I have throughly enjoyed this fresh pasta and salmon combo, along with using fresh herbs. It is a perfect summer salad in my opinion and I hope if you like salmon you give this simple recipe a try.

Enjoy and much love to you today!

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