This is my favourite salmon pasta recipe due to is combination of delicate chunks of slow baked salmon and rich homemade basil pesto. It’s easy to make with just a handful of ingredients too and even though the salmon is technical slow-baked, it’s still quick enough for a weeknight dinner.

A Fork holding pasta over a grey bowl filled with pasta. A green napkin sits in front and another bowl of pasta behind

There are two things that make this dish phenomenal: baking the salmon until just cooked through and taking the time to make your own basil pesto. The latter is optional, but if using store-bought, taste test first.

Birdseye view of two dark grey bowls filled with pasta noodles. there is a crochet green cloth in front

Which pesto to use?

I use my own homemade basil pesto which is amazing and takes 5 minutes to make but if you don’t want to make your own just make sure you taste the pesto you buy before adding it to the sauce.

Jarred pesto’s have varying flavour profiles and saltiness so you need to make sure you’re happy with the one you’re adding.

If you do want to make your own which I thoroughly recommend, you can make it the day before. Use this pesto recipe, place it in the fridge in an airtight jar covered with a layer of oil. When you want to use it, drain that oil off and use as normal.

Ingredients for salmon pesto pasta laid out on a grey background

How to cook salmon in the oven

The genius of baked salmon is in it’s simplicity. The salmon requires nothing more than a little salt, pepper and melted butter and comes out of the oven soft, luscious and insanely delicious.

You can use a large piece of salmon like I do (It feels luxurious but is actually the most affordable way to buy it) or you can use individual salmon fillets. Both will work, just remember the time it takes to cook is directly related to the size and thickness of the piece of salmon.

I learnt this slow baked method from Ari over at Well Seasoned Studio and quite honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever want salmon another way.

A slab piece like this takes about 25-30 minutes at a very low temperature (140C / 285F / 120C fan forced). You’ll know it is cooked through when the thickest part flakes without any resistance but if you have a thermometer you want to get it to about 60C / 140F. It will cook slightly further in the sauce.

Two photos side by side. Salmon on a baking tray. Unbaked on the left and baked on the right

How to make salmon pesto pasta

You’re now just a couple of steps from having this easy salmon pasta ready to serve.

  1. Cook some pasta to packet directions.
  2. Use the pesto and a handful of ingredients to very quickly cook the sauce.
  3. Then combine it all and serve. That’s it.

Recipe tips

  • You can buy salmon with or without the skin. Once baked the flesh will come away from the skin easily
  • You can cook the salmon ahead of time 1-2 days and store in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • The pesto can be made ahead also – see my homemade basil pesto post
  • Use the side of a fork or the flat of a knife to gently flake the salmon into largish chunks. It may break up a little as you stir it through the sauce.
  • Make sure to just season the sauce to your taste. I find the amount of salt in the recipe perfect for us but you may want more or less and the saltiness of your pesto will also contribute to this.
  • You can use full fat or reduced fat cream in this and both will work well.
  • Any pasta will work also. I like tagliatelle or taglialini but even a shaped pasta like penne or orecchiete will be great.

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A grey bowl filled with pasta. A green crochet cloth in front and a fork and spoon behind

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More pesto and pasta recipes you’ll love

A grey bowl filled with pasta. A green crochet cloth in front and a fork and spoon behind

Easy Salmon Pesto Pasta

5 from 2 votes
This Salmon Pesto Pasta comes together quickly with minimal ingredients for a flavour-filled, easy weeknight dinner. Luscious soft flakes of baked salmon, al dente pasta and a creamy pesto sauce are all you need.

Ingredients

  • 400 g piece of raw salmon (roughly 1lb)
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 300 g dry pasta (like spaghetti or tagliatelle) (notes)
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • cup fresh basil pesto
  • ½ cup thickened (or heavy) cream
  • cup parmesan (25g)
  • Small basil leaves to serve

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 140C / 285F 120C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
  • Brush the melted butter over the flesh side of the salmon, then sprinkle over ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until just cooked through (check the flesh in the thickest part is coming apart in flakes without too much pressure or the internal temperature is 50C / 120F)
  • Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, to packet directions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta and run under cold water. Set aside.
  • Using a saute pan or the same large saucepan, stir together the oil, pesto, cream and reserved pasta water over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the pine nuts and half of the parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Taste the sauce and season to taste using the remaining salt and pepper.
  • Gently pull the salmon into large flakes with the side of a fork or the flat of a knife. Set aside for a moment.
  • Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine then cook until heated through again.
  • Add the flaked salmon and stir gently so you don't break it up too much.
  • Serve immediately, topped with the remaining Parmesan, and basil leaves.

Notes

  • Full fat or reduced fat cream will both work.
  • You can use salmon with or without the skin. Once baked the flesh will come away from the skin easily
  • Season the sauce to your taste. I find the amount of salt in the recipe perfect but you may want more or less and the saltiness of your pesto will also contribute to this.
  • You can cook the salmon ahead of time 1-2 days and store in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • The pesto can be made ahead also – see my homemade basil pesto post
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A grey bowl filled with pasta. A green crochet cloth in front and a fork and spoon behind