Originally published January 2018. Updated January 2021
I've found that most of the time, keeping my meals simple is what works best for me. And this meal is just that. Simple seared salmon and naked pasta uses simple ingredients, cooks up quickly, and hits the spot every time. You can dress this dish up with a salad or veggies on the side to make it the kind of full meal I grew up on. Side note: anybody else's mom swear by the protein, starch, veggie combination during your childhood? Mine was committed to that formula so the concept of a well-balanced meal sticks with me to this day. Anyway, let's get into the details of this delicious dish that you'll want to add to your weeknight rotation immediately.
How to Make Naked Pasta
I discovered naked pasta, specifically naked spaghetti, one random evening during grad school and fell in love with the simplicity. I didn't have a jar of marinara handy and thought what can I mix with plain pasta? Pinterest came in clutch with suggestions and after a little experimentation, had a winner. Despite the absence of sauce, it isn't lacking flavor. at. all. You can do a lot with naked pasta (think herbs, oils, and veggies) but I gravitate toward sautéed garlic and a bit of butter to set mine off. It's an easy way to dress up plain pasta using things you have on hand in your fridge and pantry. The process is simple:
- Cook pasta al dente (meaning "to the tooth"). The pasta should be firm and chewy. Cooked but not mushy. Wondering how long does it take to cook pasta al dente? The answer is about 10 minutes from the time your pasta water is boiling.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
- Add all your herbs, oils, and spices, (even cheese, if you like) to the pot.
- Toss everything and serve.
How to Sear Salmon in a Pan
Searing salmon on a stovetop is pretty straightforward but there are a few things you should keep in mind for success. Here are my tips for making restaurant-style pan seared salmon at home.
- First things first, you'll need the right kitchen tools to get the best results. For this simple seared salmon, I use my trusty cast iron skillet to achieve a crisp exterior and tender, flaky interior that pairs perfectly with the pasta.
- Get the pan and oil hot over medium-high heat. The ideal temperature for searing is 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Wondering how to know when oil is hot enough to sear? The oil should be very thin and move easily from side to side when you move the pan. It will have a shimmering look to it, as well. If your oil starts smoking, it's too hot.
- Meanwhile, pat your salmon filet with a paper towel to make sure it's dry, which provides optimal conditions for perfectly seared salmon.
- Sear salmon skin side down first. The skin side is the scaly side, by the way and crisping it up makes it much easier to remove from the part of the salmon you want to eat. That part is referred to as the flesh. Once the skin is nice and crispy, flip it over to give the flesh side a good sear.
- A major key to searing salmon properly is to not move it too soon. Let the oil and heat work their magic and you'll find that the salmon releases from the pan easily, once cooked.
More Salmon Recipes to try:
At under 30 minutes to make, you can have pan seared salmon at home on any given weeknight, no matter how busy. The recipe is for one but you can easily double this for date night or increase the proportions by even more to serve a whole family or group. Add a bottle of wine and you have a solid, restaurant-quality dinner for one, two, or more in just a short amount of time. I personally enjoy pairing simple seared salmon and naked pasta with Kim Crawford Pinot Gris. Check out all of my favorite budget-friendly wine picks.
I love this meal because it comes together in a pinch and you can exercise creativity with the spices. Might I suggest smoked paprika? Sharing is caring so be sure to pin this seared salmon and naked pasta recipe on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
A seared salmon filet served with angel hair pasta tossed in sautéed garlic and salted butter
- 1 4-ounce salmon filet
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried or fresh parsley
- 1 lemon wedge
- 4 ounces angel hair pasta cooked
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic or ½ tablespoon dried
Cook pasta per package directions in salted water. Drain and return to pot.
Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high flame. Allow oil to heat and thin for a few minutes until hot. Meanwhile pat salmon filet to dry then season with sea salt and black pepper.
Place salmon filet skin side down in hot pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until skin easily releases from pan. Flip and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cooked through. Salmon should be opaque, flakey, and reach an internal temperature of 145 degree Fahrenheit. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over top of filet.
Remove salmon from pan and garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and parsley. Add garlic cloves to pan and sauté in remaining oil until fragrant (about 3 minutes).
Add sautéed garlic, parsley, and butter to drained pasta and toss until pasta is coated. Serve with salmon.