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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Salmon Meatball Carbonara

Salmon Meatball Carbonara
I often mention that I am a huge fish and seafood lover, often teetering on the edge of being able to label myself a pescetarian. Seafood is so versatile, it cooks quickly, and it has tons of health benefits, it's available year-round—oh, and it tastes good. If you're unsure which way to turn when you're looking for seafood, a good place to start is by looking for the words Alaska seafood.

Alaska's cold waters and natural environment produce seafood with lean flesh, a firm texture, and superior flavor. Plus, those health benefits I mentioned earlier? Alaska seafood is full of high quality protein, vitamins, minerals and oils, plus it's one of the best sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. At the same time, it is low in saturated fat and sodium.

Did you know that just like produce, seafood has a season? You can find Alaska seafood year round either fresh, frozen, canned or smoked, but here's a look at when the certain varieties are harvested, so you can keep an eye out for your favorite fresh seafood at the market.

Seafood For All Seasons #WildAlaskaSeafood
Speaking of ways to preserve seafood, today I'm sharing a delicious dish that I've made using canned Pink Alaska salmon. I happen to love keeping a few different types of canned seafood on hand for quick meals. In my house, some days fly by so fast that I don't even realize it's past 5:00 pm until the kids are asking me what's for dinner. And by some days, I mean the majority of them lately. A quick look in the pantry can usually yield me some pasta too, which is what happened with this dish.

Pasta Carbonara comes together ridiculously fast, yet produces a rich and creamy sauce that is equally flavorful as it is simple. By the simple act of mashing salmon together with a few ingredients and forming it into meatballs, I was able to add a bit of whimsy and "kid appeal" to a dish normally considered more refined.

Happy kids and happy mom.

Salmon Meatball Carbonara
Turn canned salmon into tasty meatballs, then toss them with pasta in a creamy Carbonara sauce for a quick and tasty weeknight meal that whole family will love.
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Salmon Meatball Carbonara
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: entree nut-free soy-free

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
    for the salmon meatballs:
    • 1 (14.75 ounce) can Pink Alaska Salmon, drained & picked of skin and bones (or 12-14 ounces cooked, flaked Alaska salmon)
    • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 ounce (2 thin slices) prosciutto, chopped very small
    • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
    everything else:
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 4 ounces prosciutto, rolled & sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
    • 2 fat cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 12 ounces short pasta
    • freshly ground or cracked black pepper
    • freshly chopped parsley
    making the salmon meatballs:
    Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs, except the oil, in a large bowl, using a fork to mash everything together. Form into 20 meatballs (~1 tablespoon each) and set on a baking sheet. If you want to do this part in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and slide it into the refrigerator until you're ready to finish the dish (up to 12 hours).
    Salmon Meatball Carbonara
    Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet with deep sides. Add the meatballs and cook until golden on the outside and heated all the way through, 5-7 minutes. Set on a paper towel-lined tray while you make the pasta and sauce.
    Salmon Meatball Carbonara
    making the pasta and sauce:
    Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (don't add the pasta early, watch for the correct time below).

    Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add prosciutto ribbons and cook, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto has crisped up, ~5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until soft, another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Beat the eggs in a large measuring cup with a spout; stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese; set aside.
    Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook until al dente (according to package instructions). Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.

    Immediately place the hot pasta back into the pan and pour the egg/cheese mixture over the top. Toss pasta in the mixture using two large forks, until it has coated everything and turned into a creamy sauce. Toss in the reserved prosciutto mixture. Thin the sauce a little, using the reserved pasta water, until it is smooth and creamy; gently toss in the salmon meatballs.

    Serve piled high on a plate with black pepper ground or cracked over the top with the chopped parsley. Enjoy immediately.
    Salmon Meatball Carbonara

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.