Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 a friend’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. The celery and bell pepper provide color, coolness, and crunch.

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

While the pasta water is heating, prep the other ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

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Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • Katherine

    My husband smokes and cans our Lake Michigan fresh caught salmon so I searched for your recipe. I also add a bit more mayo but also added some plain greek yogurt because our smoke salmon is dry. I also added chopped cucumbers from the garden and green onions from the garden and fresh dill from my garden. I also added some cherry tomatoes cut in half from the store. ; ) Thanks ! Great recipe!

  • Mary

    Thanks for the info. I guess I’m just partial to only having my smoked salmon on bagels. I think I will stick with the poached type for salad; however, I like looking at these recipes because sometimes they give me some interesting combinations of herbs and spices to punch up the flavor a little. Thanks.

  • Mary

    I have a question. I’ve made a dish like this also. Basically a pasta salad with salmon rather than tuna. Is the salmon “cooked” or just smoked?

    Most smoked salmon you buy is cured first, in a salt and sugar brine, and then cold smoked. It is not cooked, but the curing and smoking process inhibits bacterial growth. You should eat it as is, without additional cooking, and store it in the refrigerator. See the Wikipedia entry on smoked salmon. ~Elise

  • Charles

    I have made a similar dish for years but I also like to give it a little spice by adding some chopped chipotle and adobe sauce. It really compliments the smokiness of the salmon.

  • Cilla

    I had a pasta salad similar to this, but with cubes of smoked mozzarella mixed in. My favorite!

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