8 & $20: Farfalle in Cream Sauce with Smoked Salmon and Peas

Bright citrus meets a rich, French-inspired sauce, paired with a juicy Chardonnay

8 & $20: Farfalle in Cream Sauce with Smoked Salmon and Peas
Salty smoked salmon and fresh bursts of peas brighten this pasta dish. (Julie Harans)
Nov 12, 2019

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.

This recipe has two hallmarks of a stress-free weeknight pasta: a pre-cooked protein and an easy-to-assemble sauce. It builds on a reliable French technique of whisking milk into a roux (a thick paste of butter and flour) to create a béchamel sauce. This white sauce is a wonderful foundation for creamy pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, with more thickness and less fat than you’d get from using heavy cream.

Here, you’ll undercook the farfalle by a minute or so to avoid mushiness when it’s returned to the pot at the end, and the reserved starchy water will help encourage the marriage of pasta and sauce. Though alternatives like rigatoni and penne would work just fine, the bowtie shape mimics the flakes of fish, which nestle comfortably in its grooves.

Typically, a recipe with lemon juice and dairy should raise a red flag, as acid causes dairy-based sauces to break: The fat separates from the rest of the components, creating an unpleasant result. But the lemon is a much-needed foil for the rich béchamel and a classic complement to the salmon, so I found a work-around, using zest in the sauce itself and squeezing the juice over each portion to finish the dish instead of fully incorporating it during cooking. The salty, smoky nature of the fish bridges the gap between seafood and cheese, another two components that aren't traditionally paired but make sense here.

This pasta needs a wine that’s on the lighter-bodied end of the spectrum but still full enough to stand up to the creamy sauce, with sufficient flavor to pair with the smoked salmon. Good underlying acidity is also essential as a counterpoint to the fish, much like the squeeze of lemon. For me, the ideal candidate was a cool-climate white that had undergone moderate oak aging, the Lakewood Chardonnay Finger Lakes 2017. With juicy fruit flavors rounded out by the notes of toasted oak, it shows a balanced combination of richness and freshness that echoes and enhances the dish.

Farfalle in Cream Sauce with Smoked Salmon and Peas


Pair with a juicy Chardonnay such as Lakewood Chardonnay Finger Lakes 2017 (88 points, $15).


Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 16 ounces farfalle
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Pepper
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)

1. In a large pot, bring 1 1/2 gallons of water to a boil with 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes (or 1 minute less than the package instructions). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

2. Microwave milk for 30 seconds and set aside.

3. Melt butter in the large pot set over medium-low heat. Add shallot with a pinch of salt and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in flour to form a thick paste, then gradually whisk in the milk. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

4. Stir in parmesan, peas, pasta and half of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the smoked salmon and cook for 2 minutes more until the pasta is fully coated and the salmon starts turning a lighter pink; if the sauce is too thick, add more of the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat and stir in zest.

5. Plate pasta and finish each serving with a squeeze of lemon juice. Serves 8.

Recipes Cooking Pairings White Wines

You Might Also Like

5 Favorite Recipes: Summer Salads

5 Favorite Recipes: Summer Salads

Bring the spirit of the season to the table with these vegetarian meals and sides that add …

Jul 28, 2020
8 & $20: Mushroom-Thyme Toast with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinegar

8 & $20: Mushroom-Thyme Toast with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinegar

Make this any-time-of-day vegetarian dish in under an hour, paired with a California …

Jul 15, 2020
Tasting Memories: A ‘Fluffy’ Recipe from the Inn at Little Washington

Tasting Memories: A ‘Fluffy’ Recipe from the Inn at Little Washington

For a summer weeknight meal, a happy accident becomes a family-favorite salad of ham, …

Jul 6, 2020
Raspberry Jam Bars with Pistachio Crumble

Raspberry Jam Bars with Pistachio Crumble

For the dessert course of Nancy Silverton's family meal, these raspberry jam bars make a …

Aug 31, 2020
Bistecca Fiorentina

Bistecca Fiorentina

For the main course of Nancy Silverton's family-style menu, this standout steak is a …

Aug 31, 2020
Pinkerton Avocados with Pea Shoots, Toasted Pine Nuts and Prosciutto

Pinkerton Avocados with Pea Shoots, Toasted Pine Nuts and Prosciutto

This appetizer is the first course of three from chef Nancy Silverton's Tuscan-style menu

Aug 31, 2020