Pan-seared salmon served with parmesan cream sauce

The general wisdom concerning sauces is go slow. Slow heat, slow mixing, and slow preparation will enable you to create smooth, delicious sauces brimming with flavor but relatively free of lumps. This weekend I thought about making a parmesan sauce to have with grilled salmon and bow-tie pasta. It worked well, and even carried over to the next morning.

Pan-seared salmon served on bow-tie pasta with capers and parmesan cream sauce


  • A medium skillet for cooking the salmon
  • A small sauce pan for the sauce
  • A large pot to cook the pasta
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 box bow-tie pasta
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (approx.) parmesan cheese
  • capers
  • finely chopped chives

Set your water to boil in the large pot according to the directions on the pasta packaging--remember to liberally salt the pasta water as it will be only chance you have to season the pasta.

Next start on your sauce by making a roux

  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in 1 tablespoon flour, combining a little at a time. (if you dump in the whole tablespoon, your roux will end up being lumpy)
  • Into the roux, slowly mix up to 2 cups milk. Again, just a little at a time or the mixture will end up lumpy. A good whisk helps immensely.
  • Finally, slowly mix in a small handful of shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Keep the mixture warm over medium-low to low heat.

While the sauce warms, your water should be ready and you can dump in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box (generally dry bow-tie pasta should boil for 12 minutes)

  • Place the skillet on a burner and heat it to medium-high. Make sure it's plenty hot before you place your salmon on it to sear.
  • Liberally season the salmon with salt and pepper (and garlic, if you're a fan)
  • Place the salmon fillet in the skillet and let it sit for about two minutes carefully flip the salmon using a long, flexible spatula or a combination of wooden spoon and tongs--the salmon will begin to flake at this point, and you want to keep it together)
  • Sear on the other side about 1.5 - two minutes. If you look at the end of the fillet, you should see the salmon is transparent all the way through.

Combine the pasta and sauce and plate, divide the salmon fillet between two people, sprinkle with capers and a smattering of chives, and enjoy.

What to pair it with?

Muir Wood pinot noir 2005
Originally uploaded by greg.turner.
The strong flavors of salmon lend themselves to a wide variety of wines. And with a cooking method like pan searing, you can be assured of some of the strongest flavors possible. This dish would pair well with a number of wines, most notably a solid pinot noir. I paired it with the 2005 Muir Wood pinot noir. This wine has a light ruby color and produces distinct cherry and strawberry aromas with slight touches of citrus and evergreen. The platte produces a solid balance of fruit-forward flavors mixed with a cherry tartness from its light acidity. The tannins are fairly well-balanced and the finish is fairly long, producing light fruit flavors long after the sip has been swallowed.

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