So I always think about cooking something simple that will go perfectly with whatever kind of sparkling wine you pour. A long time ago, for one of the first such celebrations we ever held at Spago in the years before we moved it from the Sunset Strip to Beverly Hills, I came up with what still seems to me a perfect dish: pasta tossed with smoked salmon and caviar in a cream sauce.

One reason it's ideal is that smoked salmon and caviar are two of the most popular companions to Champagne. Just about any sparkling wine will go well with them. For that matter, so will good iced vodka. (Remember, always, to drink responsibly!)

But don't worry when you see the mention of caviar. I often prepare the recipe with the relatively inexpensive product known as golden caviar, made from American whitefish roe. It looks beautiful and has a surprisingly delicate flavor that goes well with the other ingredients. Of course, if you want to splurge on some good-quality imported sevruga or osetra caviar instead, don't let me stop you.

While you're thinking about shopping, let me mention the pasta, too. At my restaurants, we've always served the dish with delicately thin strands of fresh angel hair pasta that we make ourselves. Many people these days like to prepare their own pasta at home, too, so go ahead and do that if you like. But you can easily find good-quality fresh pasta in many supermarkets and gourmet delis today, and if fresh angel hair isn't available you should feel free to substitute another shape -- or, for that matter, good dried pasta. Whatever you use, the results will be great.

One of the things I like most about this recipe is how easy it is to prepare and enjoy, taking just a matter of minutes. It's so quick that you can easily multiply the recipe and still get perfect results, whether you plan to serve the dish in small portions as an appetizer to begin a lavish dinner, or as the main dish for a simple yet elegant meal.

Angel Hair Pasta With Smoked Salmon And Golden Caviar

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 30 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main dish

Angel Hair Pasta With Smoked Salmon & Golden Caviar Ingredients

    Extra-virgin olive oil

    1/2 cup heavy cream

    Freshly ground white pepper


    8 ounces fresh angel hair or other thin pasta strands, or dried angel hair or other thin pasta strands

    3 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into thin julienne strips

    2 ounces golden caviar (American whitefish roe), salmon roe, or good-quality imported caviar

    1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or dill, or whole baby chervil leaves

Angel Hair Pasta With Smoked Salmon & Golden Caviar Directions

    Fill a pasta pot with water. Add a drizzle of the olive oil. Put the pot over high heat and bring the water to a full boil.

    Meanwhile, pour the heavy cream into a large skillet. Add a few grinds of white pepper to taste. Just before you cook the pasta, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat and then remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

    Add a light sprinkling of salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta, stir briefly to separate the strands, and cook until the pasta is al dente, tender but still slightly chewy, following the suggested cooking time on the package. (Note that fresh pasta will cook more quickly than dried.)

    Drain the pasta. Immediately rinse it quickly under hot running water and then drain again.

    Add the pasta, still slightly dripping, to the hot cream in the skillet. Scatter in the smoked salmon strips. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook briefly, tossing with tongs or a pair of forks, just until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture is heated through. Scatter in half of the caviar and toss quickly again to combine. Taste the sauce and, if necessary, adjust the seasonings with a little salt and white pepper.

    Divide the pasta among 4 warm appetizer plates or between 2 larger pasta plates or bowls, transferring it with tongs or forks and then spooning the remaining sauce from the skillet evenly over the servings. Garnish each serving with a little of the remaining caviar and a light sprinkling of chives or chervil.

    Serve immediately.

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