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a bowl of salmon pesto pasta
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5 from 1 vote

Salmon Pesto Pasta

Salmon pesto pasta is a healthy, easy-to-make dish that’s loaded with good fats. Use jarred pesto or fresh basil to make your own for the creamy sauce.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: pasta, pesto sauce, salmon
Servings: 4
Calories: 508kcal


  • 12 ounces short cut pasta (I used Gluten Free penne)
  • 1 lb fresh salmon filets set out at room temp for 20 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup pasta cooking water or dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup pesto I used my dairy free homemade pesto or use your favorite store bought
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb asparagus woody ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • parmesan cheese or basil for topping


Cook the pasta

  • If you haven’t already, allow the salmon to rest at room temp for about 20 minutes. This tempers the salmon so cold salmon from the fridge doesn’t reduce the heat in the pan. You can skip this step if you’re short on time, but it helps the salmon cook evenly.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.

Sear the salmon

  • Season the flesh side of the salmon with kosher salt and pepper. If the skin is already removed you can season both sides.
  • Add the oil or butter to a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Allow it to get hot until the oil is rippling. You’ll know it’s ready when a splash of water dances and sizzles on the surface of the pan.
  • Add the salmon, flesh-side down, and sear for 5 minutes, without moving. You can check occasionally to see if it’s browning. Flip the salmon over and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches about 125°F and the salmon begins to flake. Cook time may vary based on thickness of your salmon. Transfer the cooked salmon to a clean plate. The salmon will continue to cook slightly after removing it from the heat and will cook a bit more in the pasta.

Make the sauce

  • Pour 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water or dry white wine to the pan where the salmon is cooked, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the pesto and allow it to simmer over medium heat then add the cream and lemon juice and stir to combine. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat to warm and thicken for 5-6 minutes.
  • While it’s simmering, remove any skin from the salmon and use a spoon or fork to break up the salmon into chunks.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. Top the pasta with the raw asparagus then close the lid or cover the pan with a plate for 3-4 minutes to steam the asparagus over medium heat. Open the lid and stir to combine.
  • Top the pasta with the cooked salmon and toss gently to coat the salmon with the creamy pesto sauce. Serve
  • Toss well to combine before serving with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.



  • Make-ahead: make homemade pesto and chop the asparagus in advance to save time. You could also sear the salmon in advance and keep it in the fridge overnight. It will warm back up when it's tossed with the pasta.
  • To store: store any leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. I don't recommend freezing this dish because of the cream in the sauce. To reheat, pour the pasta back in a skillet and warm over medium heat.
  • Gluten-free: use a gluten free short cut pasta. You can find this at any local grocery store. Our favorite brand is Jovial, but all of the options are great.
  • Dairy-free: to keep this entire recipe dairy free use a dairy free store bought pesto or a homemade vegan pesto. You'll also use coconut cream instead of heavy cream and omit any parmesan cheese on top.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.5g | Protein: 32.3g | Fat: 26.6g | Cholesterol: 57.9mg | Sodium: 712mg | Fiber: 4.5g | Sugar: 3.3g