One of the challenges of the holidays is keeping everyone fed when the family comes to town. We’re always looking for dishes that can feed lots of people well, without a lot of hassle, and that are relatively easy to store. Better yet if it can use up holiday feasting leftovers. Here is a simple smoked salmon pasta salad that used up the last of some smoked salmon we had for a gathering. I take no credit for the idea; I shamelessly reproduced the recipe from a lovely pasta salad I had at my friend Peg Poswall’s house the other day. It must be my dad’s midwestern roots taking hold in me. Of all the beautiful dishes at the table, including roast goose and prime rib, the one I kept going back to for seconds was this pasta dish brought by Peg’s friend Jackie. So simple, but so good. The little bits of smoked salmon do pretty much all the heavy lifting as far as flavor goes. There’s just enough mayo so the salmon sticks to the pasta. And the celery and bell pepper provide color, coolness, and crunch.
This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.
- 1 pound of dry penne rigati, gemelli, fusilli, or other short-cut pasta, or a combination
- Salt for the pasta water
- Olive oil
- 1 to 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 4 ounce smoked salmon, shredded
- 1/2 cup finely chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of dried dill
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (use a tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). Add the pasta. Cook uncovered, at a rolling boil until al dente, or tender, but still a bit firm. Drain and rinse under cold water. (If you are making the pasta ahead of time, stir in a little olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking to each other.) Note that if you are using different kinds of pasta, you may want to cook them separately as different types of pasta cook at different rates.
2 Stir in the rest of the ingredients, adjusting the amounts of mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.