Often when I find myself in a cooking routine, I think of my favorite dishes and try to present those flavor combinations in a different way. At first glance, I recognize that this advice sounds like a recipe for creating the kinds of dishes that dominated my Midwestern church potlucks of my youth – hamburger soup, chili mac, chicken pot pies – but it made me led (and other cooks) in some really interesting directions.
One epicurean recipe that’s been in heavy rotation in my house recently is this Garlic, Anchovy and Parmesan Pantry Pasta, which, if you think about it, is really just all the best cuts of Caesar salad in the form of pasta. One of my favorite brunch recipes comes from Chicago’s Tweet; it’s a stack of cornmeal cakes topped with sliced avocado, an overly easy, crumbled chorizo that’s a gorgeous mix of arepas and flapjacks.
And, as we head into warmer weather, I’ve been playing around with pasta salad variations, one of my favorite summer lunches. The other day I had everything for a delicious bagel sandwich – smoked salmon, fresh dill, sweet red onion – but no bagels.
At that point, hunger took over. I grabbed a can of rigatoni and poured it into boiling salted water. While cooking, I looked at what else I had in the fridge. Instead of reaching for cream cheese, I threw a few scoops of full-fat Greek yogurt into the food processor with some dill and a good pinch of salt, a move inspired by this delicious lamb pasta recipe. ‘Andy Barraghani.
I blitzed it until smooth and completely cohesive, then set aside.
I crumbled the smoked salmon into bite-sized pieces and chopped the red onion. Once the pasta was drained and completely cooled, I folded it in the dill yogurt sauce, topped with the salmon and sliced red onion, and tossed everything well. I rummaged through my pantry until I found my all but bagel seasoning and used it to top the pasta salad.
Not to congratulate me, but it was absolutely amazing. It’s light enough to serve as a side dish, but it also has enough flavorful contrast to serve as a lunch. If you wanted to riff on what’s in your fridge – a squeeze of lemon, a handful of scallions or chives, diced tomatoes, capers – that would be fun too.
Recipe: Smoked Salmon and Dill Pasta Salad
- 1 pound pasta of your choice (I like rigatoni, rotini or seashells)
- ¾ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- 4-6 tbsp fresh dill, to taste (#teammoredill)
- 8 ounces smoked salmon, crumbled into bite-size pieces
- ¼ red onion, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: Everything except Bagel seasoning, green onions, capers
Cook your pasta according to package directions, then drain and let cool.
In a small blender or food processor, combine Greek yogurt and fresh dill. Blend until completely smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, dill sauce, smoked salmon and chopped red pepper. Stir until pasta is completely covered in sauce.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This recipe originally appeared in Salon’s weekly food newsletter, The Bite. Sign up below for exclusive recipes, tutorials and food trials.
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