Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas
3 cups whole dairy milk
1 bay leaf
Pinch of ground cloves
Zest of 1 lemon , divided
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 filets fresh salmon
1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces green peas, fresh or frozen
2 ounces shredded parmesan cheese to garnish
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish
Place your oven rack about 6” from the heating element of your oven. Set your oven's broiler to high.
Set a 6 quart pot of water over medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil. Add the rigatoni to the water and cook according to the package instructions until tender. Be sure to stir the pasta occasionally to prevent clumping. Scoop out and reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need it to thin the sauce later. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Set a small sauce pan over low heat and add the milk, bay leaf, and ground cloves. Stir occasionally; Do not let the milk boil.
In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and garlic and cook until they appear glossy, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour. This is your roux. Cook the roux for at least 1 minute to eliminate any starchy taste. Remove the bay leaf from the simmering pot of milk and slowly ladle or pour the warmed milk into the pot with the roux, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Once all of the milk has been stirred in, allow the sauce to gently simmer, over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened to the consistency of corn syrup. Once the béchamel has thickened, add half of the lemon zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, nutmeg, and peas. Reduce the heat to low to keep the sauce warm, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining lemon zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Set aside. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour the olive oil onto the lined baking sheet and use your fingers to spread it evenly over the foil. Add the salmon filets to the pan, turning them to coat them completely with oil. Leave them skin side down. Rub equal amounts of the lemon-spice mixture onto each salmon filet.
Broil for 5 to 6 minutes or until the flesh is an opaque pink.
Once your salmon has finished broiling, remove it from the oven and carefully flake the flesh into walnut-sized pieces. Discard the skin. The salmon will break down into smaller pieces when you fold it into the pasta at a later step. Set the salmon aside.
Fold the pasta into the pot with the béchamel sauce and the peas. Make sure it's coated completely. Gently fold in the salmon. Taste adjust the seasoning as needed. If the pasta seems too thick or clumpy, stir in a few splashes of the reserved pasta cooking water until the pasta is creamy. Serve with Milk! Garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley and serve while hot. .