Pasta salad is really a to-each-his-own dish. Everyone has a way they prefer it made. Some people love tons of cheese and mayo and decadent fatty bacon in their pasta salad, while some prefer the austerity of raw vegetables and maybe a splash of vinegar. If you prefer it without mayonnaise but with fresh herbs and bright flavors, you may enjoy this version. If you like salmon — even better.
1 pound of dried pasta such as fusilli
8-12 ounces fresh salmon
One red pepper
1-2 ribs of celery
4-5 Tablespoons pickled red onions
1 bunch of asparagus
2/3 bag (2/3 pound) frozen peas
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
Juice of 2 lemons
2-3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
Half a bunch of fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Don't have pickled red onions? Use this phenomenal Instructable to make some. It's incredibly easy and incredibly worth it.
Step 1: Boil Your Water for Pasta While Prepping
Put a big pot of salted water on to boil for your pasta. When that water boils, cook the pasta.
While all that water is heating up, finely slice your celery and cut your red pepper into matchsticks. Chop up some dill.
Cut off the white or rough ends of your asparagus (or snap the ends of by hand if you are up for it) and slice the asparagus about the same length as the red pepper matchsticks you cut previously.
Make your dressing by whisking together mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and 2-3 tablespoons chopped dill (or more if you love dill like I do).
Step 2: Poach Everything That Needs It
Put a second, more shallow pot on with salted water. This one will be for blanching and poaching your vegetables and salmon. While that water is boiling, prepare an ice water bath for your veggies.
Once the water is boiled, blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes, fish it all out and dump it in the ice bath and then drain.
Do the same with the peas, cooking for 2-3 minutes and doing the ice bath and drain method.
Finally, toss a big bunch of dill in the water and place your salmon filet in the water. When it is almost back up to a boil, turn the heat off and let it sit for 5-7 minutes in the water. Then, remove the salmon and refrigerate it or otherwise cool it down. (But not in the ice bath!)
And, of course, you will do the same kind of ice bath thing with the pasta — if you haven't already.
Step 3: Bring It All Together
Once everything is cooked and relatively cooled, toss all of it except the salmon into a big mixing bowl and mix 'er up. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point. Then, when you are satisfied with the flavors, break up the salmon into decent-sized pieces and mix with the pasta salad. Chill before serving or just serve it. However you prefer it.