Penne pasta with salmon, fiddlehead ferns, creamy tomato sauce

Penne salmon fiddleheads creamy tomato sauce

This has become one of my favorite pastas to eat. It is different and seasonal, making it a primetime dish to serve for friends. Gently baked salmon brings oceanic silkiness and fattiness. Sautéed fiddlehead ferns bring a forest-like asparagus taste and a uniquely firm yet soft texture. Both of these work gorgeously with pasta.

These two ingredients transform the traditional penne ala vodka to something irresistibly satisfying. This recipe also swaps out the vodka for the sweetness of dry white wine. Trust me, you won’t miss the vodka one bit. I dare you to eat less than two bowls of this.


Penne with salmon, fiddleheads, creamy tomato sauce

Ingredients (serves 4 people):

  • 1 lb salmon filet
  • 3 handfuls fiddlehead ferns
  • 1 lb penne or rigatoni
  • 14-16 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons
  • Thyme
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Butter

Fiddleheads added to creamy tomato sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the salmon filet generously with salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon juice. Cook the salmon for 8-10 minutes, until medium-rare. When finished, pull the salmon from the oven and have it cool.

Clean the fiddlehead ferns as the salmon cooks. First, cut off the very end of the fiddlehead fern stalk. Then get them wet and gently rub off some of the excess chaff. Afterward, place them in a colander and run them through water. Have them dry off with paper towels. A bit labor intensive, but worth it.

Saute the fiddlehead ferns in a pan over medium high heat with butter and olive oil for 5-7 minutes. Remove the fiddleheads and have them cool.

Prepare the creamy tomato sauce next. Over medium heat, saute the red onion with some of the thyme for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. After a couple minutes, pour in the white wine. Allow for some of the alcohol taste to evaporate and cook down for 5 minutes. Then pour in the canned diced tomatoes. Have this gently cook over medium to medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and have it cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add less cream if you want it more tomato-sauce like or more cream, if that’s how you like it.

Meanwhile, prepare your pasta and add it to boiling water.

Incorporate into the sauce the already sauted fiddlehead ferns and baked salmon. Flake the salmon into bite sized pieces. Stir the entire mixture into the creamy tomato sauce. Season it with plenty of salt and pepper. Toss the pasta directly from the boil water to the sauce pan. Make sure every pasta strand is touch with sauce and eat it immediately. Enjoy!

Fiddleheads - sauted upclose

Uncooked Salmon

Cooked Salmon

Wine and aromatics - simmering

Tomatoes added to wine and onions

Cream added to sauce

Salmon added to sauce

Penne with salmon, fiddlehead, creamy tomato sauce

Penne with salmon, fiddlehead ferns


1 comment… add one
  • Matthew Stone Jun 6, 2013


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