— 4 fillets of salmon
— 1 lb box of penne pasta
— 1 medium zucchini, diced into medium pieces
— 1 red bell pepper, diced into medium pieces
— 1 container of baby Bella mushrooms
— 1 shallot, chopped fine
— 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced fine
— 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
— 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
— 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
— 1 heaping tablespoon grated Parmesan (the powdery stuff)
— 1/2 teaspoon thyme
— Zest from 1 lemon
— 1.5 cup heavy cream
— 2 ounces cream cheese
— Cajun seasoning (see directions for specifics)
— 3 tablespoons garlic powder, separated
— 3 tablespoons onion powder, separated
— 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
— Cayenne pepper (optional)
— Large Beefsteak tomato diced into large wedges and then cut in half
— Juice from half a lemon (to be squeezed onto fish after searing)
Add 1 tablespoon of oil or cooking spray to the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat.
Add zucchini, red bell pepper, and mushroom. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon of onion powder. Cook for 5 minutes.
Taste the mixture to assess if salt needs to be added. If so, do so at this time. Be careful not to over salt. I’d add no more than 1 additional teaspoon at this stage. Remember, cheese is salty.
Cook veggies for another 8-10 minutes or so, until completely tender. Remove and set aside. DO NOT RINSE OUT THE POT!
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pan.
Add shallot, crushed red pepper, and garlic to the pan. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring consistently, until aromatic.
Pour in heavy cream and combine completely with shallots and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
Add Parmesan, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella. Stir constantly until all cheese is melted and blended smoothly.
Add 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, and all the lemon zest. Taste the mixture. If not salty enough, add a bit more Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon at a time, until satisfied.
Now you want to taste to assess heat level. If you’d like more heat, now is the time to add some Cayenne. I suggest starting with 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne, and add 1/2 teaspoon at a time until satisfied.
Once your cheese sauce is perfect, add noodles and veggies back, and stir to combine.
Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, and then remove from the heat.
While your pasta is sitting and developing deeper flavor, it’s time to sear your salmon fillets over medium heat.
You should have already cleaned your fish with lemon water. If you haven’t, see here for a guide to doing so.
Season fishes with roughly tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil to a skillet and cook salmon 3-4 minutes per side until done. Remove from the heat.
Immediately squeeze the juice of a half a lemon directly onto the fish.
Plate the pasta and top with one piece of fish, serve, and enjoy!