This dish is an adaptation of a recipe I clipped from a magazine many, many moons ago. The original called for much less cream cheese and asparagus, which my husband is not a fan of. I added more cream cheese, changed out leeks for onion and substituted peppery arugula for the asparagus. Wish I could credit the original recipe, but the little scrap of paper I have has no details other than the list of original ingredients and cooking method.
What you need: measuring spoons/cups, paring knife, chef’s knife, kitchen scissors, cutting board, food processor, large pot, strainer, large bowl (if making the pasta ahead), large sauté pan, whisk
- 1 sixteen oz box penne pasta
- 1 medium onion (pureed)
- 2 eight oz packs cream cheese (cut into cubes)
- 12 oz smoked salmon cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs garlic puree
- 2 tbs dried tarragon
- 2 oz baby arugula
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Fill your pot with about 5 quarts of water; add 1 tbs salt and a splash of olive oil. Bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to packet directions. Using a ladle, spoon off 2 cups of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta from the remaining water and also set aside (if you are cooking the pasta ahead of time, immediately place it in an ice bath and keep in the bowl with cold water until ready to add back into the sauce).
Heat the olive oil in the sauté pan over a medium/high heat. Add the pureed onion and garlic and cook until soft, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the reserved pasta water and the 2 packages of cream cheese, and using a whisk combine. Add in the dried tarragon, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of fresh ground pepper. Add the salmon and stir to combine, again heating all the way through. Add the pasta (if made ahead – make sure it’s heated all the way through in the sauce). Prior to serving add in the baby arugula. Stir to combine.
To Serve: Spoon the pasta into warmed wide opening bowls or plates. Serve immediately.