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Give yourself the date-night-out treatment from the comfort of your kitchen via this swoon-worthy Salmon Pasta. Tender flakes of salmon tossed in a creamy lemon sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and whole wheat noodles, this elegant recipe will leave you feeling like a 5-star chef.

Creamy salmon pasta in a bowl

A Special Salmon Pasta Recipe

This easy recipe is decidedly low maintenance (thank goodness!), but it tastes special enough to make your evening feel like an event.

Ben and I intentionally chose to stay in for Valentine’s Day, and salmon is often on the menu (Balsamic Glazed Salmon is one of the first dinners he ever cooked for me).

Don your LBD (Little Black Dress) or your SSP (Super Stretchy Pants) and cook this meal for a special someone.

And yes, that special someone can absolutely, 100% be YOU!

Like my Seafood Pasta, this creamy salmon pasta recipe wants you to light a candle, pour a glass of your favorite wine, and turn on some music.

Two bowls of salmon pasta with cheese

About this Salmon Pasta Recipe

While this pasta tastes rich and decadent, per usual I pulled out my wholesome tricks, so you can feel great adding it to your regular healthy meal rotation.

Put it all together: al dente noodles + divine cream sauce (no cream!) + tender, flaky salmon, and you have a weeknight dinner you’ll remember for many nights to come.

Healthy salmon pasta with basil

How to Cook Salmon Pasta

Think of this creamy tomato salmon pasta recipe like a lighter version of salmon alfredo that will make you feel comforted but not comatose.

Tip!

To cook white pasta sauce from scratch without relying on heavy cream, be sure to reserve some of the pasta cooking liquid.

Its starchiness will help the sauce thicken, come together easily, and have great texture. This is key for the best salmon pasta without cream.


The Ingredients

  • Salmon. Tender, perfectly-cooked salmon pieces make this healthy salmon pasta feel especially elegant and add wonderful lean protein. Salmon is rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins.

Switch up the Salmon

In addition to the fresh salmon pasta directions provided in this recipe, you can also use leftover salmon or change up the way you cook it.

Lemon, red pepper flakes, and garlic are some of the flavors that go best with salmon. A few salmon recipes that highlight these and pair well with pasta are:

Another option is to make this as a smoked salmon pasta, swapping hot smoked salmon in for the baked salmon called for in this recipe.

I recommend a thick, flaky salmon (hot smoked salmon), vs. the more thin and tender cold-smoke (think lox-style) salmon. See this Smoked Salmon Dip for another great recipe that uses it.

  • Pasta. I chose to use whole wheat pasta for its redeeming value, as it’s higher in fiber. Penne, rigatoni, or another similar pasta will work perfectly here. You could even try it with spaghetti or linguine.
  • Lemon Zest + Juice. Gives this dish delicious brightness and acidity.
  • Butter + Shallot + Garlic. The all-important beginnings of our salmon pasta cream sauce. A touch of butter brings richness, and the garlic and shallot help build deep flavor.
  • White Wine. An important part of how you make salmon cream sauce for pasta. It helps deglaze the pan and create the liquid for the sauce. You can use white wine, chicken broth, or vegetable broth for this step.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. Adds just the right amount of heat.
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes. Intense tomato lusciousness is packed into each of these little red jewels. Like in Tuna Pasta Salad, they make the dish feel extra special and add beautiful color.
  • Fresh Basil. A touch of basil (or fresh parsley) adds freshness and Italian flair to the dish. Basil is also an herb that goes well with salmon.
  • Parmesan. For that can’t-resist cheesy, nutty, yummy goodness.

The Directions

A fish filet in a baking dish
  1. Bake the salmon at 425 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Pieces of salmon on a plate for salmon pasta
  1. Let the salmon rest, then break it into pieces. Cook the pasta. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining.
Garlic being sautéed in a skillet
  1. Saute the shallot in butter and oil. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Ingredients being sautéed in a skillet
  1. Add the wine, zest, and juice. Let simmer for a couple of minutes. Toss the pasta noodles with the sauce, adding pasta water as needed.
Noodles, cheese, red peppers, and herbs in a pot to create the best salmon pasta
  1. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan. Gently incorporate the salmon. DIG IN!

Wine Pairing

Serve this simple salmon pasta recipe with Sauvignon Blanc, crisp Chardonnay, Malbec, or Pinot Noir.

Salmon pasta in a pot with cheese

Storage Tips

  • To Store. This pasta dish is best enjoyed the day it is made, but it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • To Reheat. Very gently rewarm leftovers on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The sauce may separate a little once thawed, but it will taste delicious.

Meal Plan Tip

Bake the salmon up to 1 day in advance, and refrigerate it in an airtight storage container. Let it come to room temperature first, then add it to the recipe as directed.

Easy salmon pasta in a bowl

What to Serve with Salmon Pasta

From salad to roasted veggies, there are countless options for what you eat with salmon pasta.

Time to treat yourself, the salmon pasta way!

Salmon Pasta Video

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YouTube video

Salmon Pasta

5 from 28 votes
Guaranteed to impress, this creamy salmon pasta with sun-dried tomatoes is spectacular. The garlic lemon alfredo sauce is made with no cream!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound salmon fillet* I prefer cooking salmon with skin on, though you can use skinless if you prefer
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, freshly squeezed lemon juice divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 8 ounces whole wheat penne rigatoni, or similar pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine or low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil plus additional for serving
  • 1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the salmon in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold it comfortably and pat dry.
  • Drizzle the salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice (you’ll need the zest of 1/2 lemon later on, so be sure to plan accordingly). Sprinkle the salmon evenly with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  • Bake the salmon for 10 to 12 minutes for a 1-inch fillet, until it flakes easily with a fork and reaches 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. DO NOT overcook. If your salmon is thicker or thinner than 1 inch adjust the cooking time accordingly (I usually start checking it around 12 minutes, remove it a few degrees early, then cover it and let it rest to allow the carry-over cooking to finish the job). Remove to a cutting board or plate.
  • Let the salmon rest 5 minutes, then with a fork, break it into large, bite-sized pieces. Discard the skin.
  • While the salmon bakes, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.
  • While the pasta cooks, in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat.
  • Add the shallot and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  • Add the wine, lemon zest, and remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Simmers gently for 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed.
  • Stir in the noodles. Toss the noodles so that they become coated with garlic-lemon sauce. If at any point, the sauce becomes too thick or dry, splash in the reserved pasta water as needed.
  • Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and parmesan.
  • Last, gently stir in the flaked salmon, heating just until warmed through. Enjoy immediately, with a sprinkle of extra Parmesan and basil.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • *You can also swap the 1 pound salmon fillet with four, 4-ounce fillets. Arrange them side-by-side in the baking dish. Start checking the fish for doneness at the 8-minute mark, then adjust accordingly.
  • Add capers as a final touch! They’re delightfully salty and briny!
  • TO STORE: This dish is best enjoyed the day it is made, but it can be refrigerated in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Very gently rewarm leftovers on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The sauce may separate a little once thawed, but it will taste delicious.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 554kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 34gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 85mgPotassium: 857mgFiber: 5gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 667IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 131mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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Recipe Rating




66 Comments

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  1. I watched the special video (Valentine’s Day dinner idea) & was inspired to try this dish. The little bowtie pasta were adorable & the lemon tones/flavour in the dish were super! I would never have thought of putting salmon IN my pasta dishes (or parmesan cheese with salmon) – but it was all a WIN/WIN combination. My husband says the recipe “is a keeper”. Thank you Erin for another winning recipe. PS: I selected your Roasted Broccolini side dish to go with & it was also fantastic!5 stars

  2. So delicious, best thing I’ve ever eaten. I added a dash of heavy whipping to it but that’s it. I will make this recipe again and again and again.5 stars

    1. Hi Cody! You could probably use either one. I’d love to know how it turns out if you decide to experiment!

  3. LOVED it! I’ve never made pasta with salmon before and this recipe was easy to make! I didn’t have white wine so used veg stock instead and it was very delicious. Hope to see more creative salmon recipes :)5 stars

  4. Winner !! For too big a piece of wild Salmon needing to be used … didn’t put much heavy cream .,2 Meyer Lemons, juiced, 1:2 cup Chicken Broth … fresh basil& Italian Parsley .., very light & great!5 stars

  5. This was DELICIOUS! The only suggestion I have is to use a white wine that is on the less acidic side (I used a very acidic one and it was a bit too much for me). Will definitely make again5 stars

  6. I don’t always follow recipes perfectly. But this salmon pasta? I nailed it. The salmon came out flaky and moist, just how I like it. I love the simplicity of this recipe and it’s packed with flavor. Plus, it came together in less than 30 minutes. Perfect for a busy mom like me. Thank you so much!5 stars

  7. I have a resident food critic at home aka my husband who can sniff out mediocrity a mile away. But this salmon pasta? He devoured it. Every. Single. Bite. The salmon was perfectly cooked, I love how cheesy it is, and the whole thing was a flavor fiesta.5 stars

  8. This recipe gave me two delicious meals for the price of one. The leftovers were even better the next day, soaking up all the flavors overnight. I whipped up some quick garlic bread on the side, and boom, instant gourmet leftovers. Thank you!5 stars

  9. I just made this , I made half the recipe to get two meals out of it. It was delicious, it is definitely a keeper for sure, I did not have fresh basil so I used dried basil and it still tasted great. Paired well with my Pinot Noir, will keep in mind when I have guests over 🥰5 stars

  10. Enjoyed this recipe a lot! Am not a huge salmon (or fish in general) person but figured with a tasty pasta and the sun dried tomatoes, etc., I might enjoy it a bit more. I did! I added some asparagus to the pasta in the last few minutes (just to have some veggies without needing to make a side dish) and used dill/parsley instead of basil, since it’s what I had on hand. I used chicken broth but next time may see how the flavor changes w/ white wine. This definitely took me more than 30 minutes to make (quite a few different steps despite not many ingredients) but I think I can prep some of the things ahead of time to be a bit quicker. Husband enjoyed as well – will definitely make again :)5 stars

  11. Great recipe for left over salmon too. I had some “pesto salmon” left over and used that and cut proportions down for just two people. I cook very fat free so skipped the oil and butter and sauted in broth, added some mushrooms too that I needed to use, and used the type of sun dried tomato not in oil, Did add the wine and fresh basil. This is a recipe I would make for any salmon loving company in the future. Thank you!5 stars

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