Pasta and smoked salmon (or lox) may not sound like natural companions, but if you think about it everything that goes on a bagel with lox makes a delicious pasta sauce. We’ve combined cream cheese, capers, and lemon together into a creamy, salty, and bright pasta sauce that goes perfectly with smoked salmon. The addition of Ventura Spice brings additional notes of herbs and just a touch of sweetness!
If you’re not familiar with Ventura Spice, we hand-blend this special seasoning with many of the herbs and spices that grow in Ventura County. Pacific Sea Salt, strawberries, rosemary, sage, citrus peel, chile peppers, and pink peppercorns come together to form a taste of Ventura!
Smoked Salmon vs Lox
Before we go any further, let’s discuss these two terms. Smoked salmon and lox tend to be used interchangeably, but they really are different. Lox are salt cured without smoking. Smoked salmon may be cured or may not be cured, but are obviously smoked!
The packaging on cured and smoked salmon can be confusing. You may find salmon labeled “nova lox” which means smoked cured – and other such baffling terms. Either smoked or salt-cured salmon works in this recipe! No matter what you call it, cured salmon is delicious! Pick your favorite and move forward without looking back!
Pasta. Creamy sauces work well with long pasta such as fettuccine, spaghetti, and linguine. The length of the pasta gives the sauce a lot of surface to cling to!
Oil. Just a touch of olive oil is needed.
Dairy. This recipe calls for both sour cream and cream cheese. The sour cream adds a bit of a tang while the cream cheese adds the creaminess! If you have access to creme fraiche, that is a great substitute for both sour cream and cream cheese.
Produce. A few handfuls of spinach add green to this recipe while the tomatoes give a bit of acid and sweetness.
Spices: Ventura Spice adds a touch of herbiness and sweetness to this recipe! We hand-blend this special seasoning with many of the herbs and spices that grow in Ventura County.
Pink Peppercorns. We find the touch of sharpness and bright fruitiness pink peppercorn adds brings a lovely balance to this rich dish.
Capers. Commonly used to season fish and pasta across the Mediterranean world, capers add a briny, savory, tangy counterpoint to fatty and rich dishes. In the United States, capers are considered an essential part of lox and bagels which lead to their addition in this dish. You’ll find this tiny pickled flower bud in a jar in the pickle section of most grocery stores. After opening, capers will last for up to a year stored in the refrigerator.
Lemon Peel. If your lemon is organic, zest the peel to use. If your lemon is not organic, you many want to use Dried Lemon Peel as pesticides used in citrus tend to be concentrated in the peel.
Smoked Salmon. As mentioned above, feel free to use any lox or cured salmon.
This recipe seems fancy, but only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish! Start your pasta water. While you wait for it to boil, start preparing your sauce.
Four hints to preparing this creamy pasta recipe.
- When blistering the tomatoes, the pan may seem a bit dry. That’s okay as in the very next step, you’ll be adding the pasta water to the pan. No need to add extra oil.
- This recipe calls for pasta water which is the water in which the pasta boils. The starch the pasta releases into that water will help your sauce thicken up and adhere to the pasta. As you need the pasta water, simply dip the water needed out of the pot of boiling water. If you cook your pasta before making the sauce, set aside two cups of that water to use as you bring together the pasta and sauce.
- Add the spinach to the strainer you’ll use to strain your pasta. As you strain your pasta, that hot water will just barely wilt the spinach.
- Smoked salmon or lox do not need to be cooked. Add it at the very end of the cooking process.
Ventura Spice Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta
Ventura Spice Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Once water is boiling, add a tablespoon of Pacific Flake Sea Salt
Cook pasta according to package directions.
While water is boiling, preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
While the skillet is heating, slice cherry tomatoes in half.
Add oil to the skillet and let it heat up for about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and cook until blistered for a minute or two.
Turn heat down to medium-low, and add sour cream, cream cheese, and pasta water.
Stir until the cream cheese melts.
Add capers, Ventura Spice, Lemon Peel, and Pink Peppercorns.
As you drain the pasta, add the baby spinach to the strainer to wilt it.
Add pasta and spinach to the skillet with cheese mixture.
Stir until pasta is covered in sauce.
Gently stir in smoked salmon.
Serve and Enjoy!
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