Salmon and shrimp pasta

Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon

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Here’s one of my favorite light, summery, sunny type pastas. This light lemon garlic pasta with salmon also has the good fortune of being healthy! It’s all about simplicity and freshness. With fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, capers and salmon, you practically have summer on a plate.

And to top it off, for a tiny bit of decadence, we’ll sprinkle some Parmesan loving on it. There’s no cream sauce to carry it so this is all about the goodness and tastiness of high quality olive oil mixed with fresh, awesome flavors.

Shall we?

Start off by cooking the pasta. You can use any kind of pasta you like. Spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, pappardelle or tube-type pastas. I went with rigatoni for this recipe. If you want it even healthier, sub whole wheat pasta instead.

While the pasta cooks, season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper to taste and bake it until cooked. Baking and cutting the salmon later will result in flakier salmon bits. If you want your salmon to have more form, try cubing it while it’s raw and pan-frying it in olive until cooked about 3-4 minutes per side. However you decide to prep your salmon, make sure to flake or cube it into bite-sized pieces so there’s enough to go around later.

Mince the garlic, chop the basil and get your lemon rind ready while the pasta and salmon cooks. As usual, I’m gonna advocate using a microplane for grating your rind and Parmesan cheese. It’s worth it.

Drain the pasta and mix it all up with some good quality olive oil. You’ll want something high quality because this will be the ‘sauce’ that binds the flavors together, so it has be delicious. I used extra virgin olive oil here. If you don’t really know the difference between regular olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, here’s a great guide explaining it. But long story short, extra virgin is the way to go for tossing, dressing and dipping.

Add some fresh basil leaves to the pasta too. I don’t know about you but I love the scent and taste of fresh basil leaves. It’s one of my favorite herbs. Throw in some freshly minced garlic too and salt and pepper to taste, then toss the pasta to mix. If you feel you need more olive oil, go ahead and add another tablespoon or so.

Then we add fresh lemon juice, zest and capers to the pasta for some lemony flavor. Yum. By now the salmon should be cooked, so flake it or if you cubed it before, simply add it to the pasta. Cubing it prior to cooking makes it firmer, so you can toss the pasta and salmon with more gusto. If you flake it after baking it, be gentle during the tossing so you don’t end up with salmon shreds. If you don’t mind salmon shreds, toss away!

As usual, baking time of the salmon will vary depending on how thick your fillet is. The standard rule of thumb is to cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness which is measured from the salmon’s thickest point. If you start getting whitish stuff, you’ve cooked it too long.

And you’re ready to serve. Now the fun part begins by plating the pasta and topping it with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese. I prefer shaved cause every now and then I find a Parmesan shaving and it feels like you’ve discovered some treasure. Also, if you happen to like olives, this pasta really goes well with it!

Happy eating!

PS: If you enjoy the pairing of lemon with salmon, try out lemon and parmesan crusted salmon.

Scale 1x2x3x

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. rigatoni/pasta
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. salmon fillet
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions
  2. Meanwhile, season salmon with salt and pepper to taste and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with garlic, olive oil, basil and season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. Add lemon juice, zest and capers to the pasta and toss to mix
  5. Flake the salmon into bite-size pieces
  6. Gently toss salmon with the pasta
  7. Dish and serve hot topped with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

Notes

*If reheating and the pasta is dry, add more olive oil after reheating it to moisten it up.

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This Cajun salmon pasta recipe is fast and flavorful. Cajun spices, sun-dried tomatoes, cream, and garlic make this dish irresistible!

It’s no secret that I love salmon pasta. This one has a slightly spicy (but not too spicy) twist, and it’s just as easy to make as my popular creamy garlic salmon pasta or my creamy tomato salmon pasta.

This is a quick recipe that takes about as long to cook the sauce as it takes to boil the water for the pasta.

This recipe is written for two people, but it’s easily doubled if needed.

I used spaghetti in this recipe, but any pasta is fine.

How to make Cajun salmon pasta

  • Coat salmon in salt & pepper and flour;
  • Sear the salmon on both sides in a hot skillet for 2 minutes/side;
  • Take the fish out of the pan and set aside;
  • Add the Dijon mustard, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan, followed by the cream, Cajun seasoning, and lemon juice;
  • Add the salmon back into the pan and cook for a few more minutes. I also like to add some fresh basil (not necessary but very tasty).

Recipe tip: I bought one piece of fresh salmon that weighed around 1/2 a pound. Anything around there works, really. You can buy either skin-on or skin-off salmon. The skin is fine to eat, but some people don’t like to. If you buy a piece with the skin on but don’t want to eat it, I suggest peeling the skin off on the step where you’ve taken the salmon out of the pan… it should come off easily.

Love Cajun flavors? You may also like my Cajun shrimp pasta, homemade remoulade sauce, my Cajun sausage pasta, or my one pot Cajun chicken pasta.

Questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments below.

More salmon pasta recipes to try:

  • Easy Smoked Salmon Pasta
  • Garlic Butter Salmon Pasta
  • Lemon Dill Salmon Pasta

5 from 5 votes

Cajun Salmon Pasta

This Cajun salmon pasta recipe is fast and flavorful. Cajun spices, sun-dried tomatoes, cream, and garlic make this dish irresistible!

Course Main Course Cuisine American Keyword Cajun salmon pasta Prep Time 7 minutes Cook Time 13 minutes Total Time 20 minutes Servings 2 Author Salt & Lavender

  • 4 ounces uncooked pasta
  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • Fresh basil, torn to taste (optional)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Boil a large, salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook it al dente according to package directions. When the pasta is about 10 minutes away from being done, start the sauce.

  2. Lightly season the salmon with salt & pepper and then coat it in flour.

  3. Add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the salmon for 2 minutes/side.

  4. Take the fish out of the pan and set it aside. Reduce the stove’s heat to medium.

  5. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and Dijon mustard to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

  6. Add the cream, lemon juice, and Cajun seasoning to the pan. Stir until the sauce is smooth.

  7. Add the salmon back into the pan and break it up using your spoon. Let it cook for a few more minutes until it’s cooked through and the sauce has thickened up a bit. Add some fresh basil in the last minute or two of cooking if using.

  8. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated parmesan if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • I used sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and drained the oil before adding them to the pan.