This Salmon Pesto Pasta is a restaurant quality dish that you can make at home. So flavorful, and easy enough to make on a weeknight!

Overhead photo of skillet filled with spiral shaped noodles tossed with pesto, and chunks of salmon.

If you ask me to name a dish that is super easy to make at home, but kind of feels like a restaurant meal, it would be either salmon pasta or baked pesto salmon.

I know that noodles of all kinds are a weeknight staple for most households, including around here, where pesto pasta with veggies and chicken seems to be on our menu weekly.

But sometimes, using salmon instead of chicken makes it seem fancy, even for a weeknight.

Pairing salmon with noodles allows you to add some protein to your carbs, in a way that’s a little bit different and leaner than the traditional ground beef with red sauce combination.

About this Salmon Pesto Pasta:

This Salmon Pesto Pasta recipe is perfect for a “date night” at home, but is also easy and fast enough to make on a weeknight for your family (my instant pot salmon and potatoes, apricot salmon and crab stuffed salmon are also great weeknight salmon meals).

It may seem kind of fancy, but trust me, it’s just cooking pasta + making a simple pesto sauce + roasting a piece of salmon.

Overhead photo of ingredients for salmon pesto pasta, including a salmon fillet, dried pasta, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, chicken broth, basil pesto, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes.

The ingredients for this Salmon and Pesto Pasta are easy to find:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • salmon fillet
  • salt and pepper
  • fusilli pasta
  • butter
  • garlic
  • flour
  • chicken broth
  • basil pesto
  • lemon
  • Parmesan cheese
  • red pepper flakes
  • basil

Tips for making this pesto pasta with salmon recipe successful:

  • So, you’re going to be cooking three things at once (fish, pasta, sauce) in this recipe, but I know that you can do it. Don’t worry.
  • First, get your salmon into the oven. All you’re doing here is putting the fish on a pan, seasoning it, and popping it into the oven (you can also start with my lemon herb sockeye salmon recipe or grilled sockeye salmon for extra flavor). Set a timer and forget about it for awhile.
  • Next, get your pasta cooking: dump some fusilli or other twisty shape pasta into a pot of boiling, salted water, and again: set it and forget it (well, maybe give it a stir or two if you remember).
  • Then for the tasty sauce. You’ll start by cooking some garlic and flour in butter, and then adding chicken broth, pesto, lemon zest, salt and pepper. You’ll cook this mixture 3 to 4 minutes or until it thickens into a, well, sauce.
  • By now, your pasta should be done cooking. Drain it well, pour it into the skillet along with a little bit of pasta cooking water (the starchy water will help the sauce stick to the noodles).
  • At this point, your salmon should be done cooking, too! Take that out of the oven, break it into big chunks and put it on top of your pasta.
  • Grab a fork and some Parmesan cheese for sprinkling– it’s dinner time!

Closeup photo of noodles with pesto and salmon, in white skillet.

How much pesto do you add to pasta?

3/4 cup of pesto, plus 1/4 cup pasta cooking water for every 12 ounces of dry pasta will yield a well-balanced pesto pasta.

Feel free to add a little bit more pesto if you REALLY love the flavor of basil, or a little bit more pasta cooking water if you like your sauces on the thinner side.

Can salmon pesto pasta be reheated or frozen?

While I love recipes where leftovers can be reheated for lunch the next day, this recipe is one that is best eaten immediately (just like my Greek yogurt pasta). Does “reheated fish pasta” sound good to anybody? I also don’t recommend freezing this.

So, while this recipe as written below would serve a family of four (or a double date at home!), if you’re serving just two people for date night, I’d recommend cutting the recipe in half.

If you’re looking for a salmon recipe that can be frozen and reheated, check out my Salmon Cakes! They’re made with fresh, flavorful ingredients and are easy to prepare. This recipe will win over even the seafood skeptics in your family.

Overhead photo of skillet filled with spiral shaped noodles tossed with pesto, and chunks of salmon.

Salmon Pesto Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This Salmon Pesto Pasta is a restaurant quality dish that you can make at home. So flavorful, and easy enough to make on a weeknight!

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 (12 ounce) center cut salmon fillet
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 12 ounces dried fusilli or other short pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
  • Fresh basil and lemon wedges, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray small rimmed baking pan with nonstick spray. Place salmon, skin side down, on prepared pan and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until salmon is almost opaque throughout and internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add broth, pesto, lemon zest and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture has thickened to a thin sauce consistency, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and add to skillet, along with 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Cook over low heat, tossing constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until all pasta is throughly coated in sauce. Add additional pasta cooking water, if needed, to keep things saucy!
  6. Remove salmon from oven. Slip spatula between salmon skin and flesh to remove skin; discard skin. Break salmon into large chunks over pasta.
  7. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, if desired, over pasta . Serve garnished with fresh basil and lemon wedges, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 670Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 1059mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 28g

Did you make this recipe?

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Collage of images of finished dish and ingredients, with overlay: SALMON PESTO PASTA restaurant quality pasta at home!