Top Chef Jr. contestants Jasmine Bell and Max Gerber are with TODAY to whip up this creamy pasta dish with spicy shrimp and seared salmon. Judges Curtis Stone and Vanessa Lachey join the contestants to give the finished product a taste and their seal of approval.
- 1 pound dry spaghetti or linguini
- 4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin-on
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced finely
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 red tomato, diced
- One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, diced and liquid reserved
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Press salmon fillets between paper towels to dry surfaces thoroughly. Season on all sides with salt and pepper and set aside. Coat shrimp with Cajun seasoning and set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomato, roasted red peppers and reserved liquid. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Add heavy cream and stir.
4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions.
5. Add seasoned shrimp to sauce, stir, cover and reduce to low heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent sauce from scorching. Once shrimp are ready, turn off the heat.
6. In a large skillet, heat a few drizzles of olive oil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and press firmly in place for 10 seconds, using the back of a flexible spatula, to keep skin from wrinkling.
7. As you cook, press gently on the back of the fillets occasionally to ensure good contact between the skin and the pan, until the salmon releases easily from the pan, about 3-4 minutes (if skin shows resistance when you attempt to lift a corner with spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily). Continue to cook until salmon reaches desired doneness (110°F in the very center for rare, 120°F for medium-rare, or 130°F for medium) about 5-7 minutes total. (Note that the USDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145°F or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.) Using spatula, gently flip salmon fillets and cook for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
8. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the pan with the shrimp and sauce. Toss to coat well.
9. Place noodles with shrimp and sauce on a plate, top with the salmon fillets and garnish with chopped parsley.