Smoked Salmon Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce | Fresh Tastes | PBS Food

Keep it Simple with Smoked Salmon Pasta

Smoked Salmon Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

While many cream sauces involve cooking butter and flour to make a bechamel, it’s a lot of work, and I find the extra butter makes the sauce a little too rich for my tastes. That’s why I like using a simpler approach.

This dish is so simple in fact, that I can give you the recipe in one sentence: Boil the pasta, puree the sauce ingredients, reduce the sauce ingredients and coat the pasta and smoked salmon in the sauce. All of this takes about 10 minutes.

Smoked Salmon Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

By reducing cream and milk with cheese it creates a rich, creamy sauce that coats each strand of noodle without any added flour or butter; by pureeing basil into the sauce, it gives the sauce a gorgeous green hue and pesto-like flavor without adding any effort. The sauce then get’s tossed together with the al dente noodles and salmon, coating each strand of pasta, while gently cooking the salmon with the residual heat.

Scanning through the recipe, you might be wondering why there’s no salt. That’s because the smoked salmon, cheese and the boiling water for the pasta should impart plenty of sodium into the dish. That said, some smoked salmon is less salty than others, so if you taste it and feel like it needs more, you can add some salt at the very end.

Smoked Salmon Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

Smoked Salmon Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

Smoked Salmon Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

Basil cream sauce is a lighter substitute for bechamel that doesn't lack in flavor. Marc Matsumoto explains the simplicity of this dish in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.



  • 300 grams (10.6 ounces) dried spaghetti
  • 40 grams (1.4 ounces) Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 40 grams (1.4 ounces) basil
  • 5 grams (0.18 ounces) garlic (1 medium clove)
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) cold smoked salmon, roughly torn apart
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta 1 minute less than what the package directions say.
  2. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano to a small food processor or blender and process until powderized.
  3. Add the basil, garlic, cream and milk and process until smooth.
  4. Pour the sauce into a sauté pan and when the pasta is about 1 minute away from being done, turn the heat on to high.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil, and cook until it starts to thicken.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce along with the smoked salmon. Stir to coat the pasta evenly while breaking up the salmon.
  7. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and the lemon juice. Plate and serve immediately.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Marc Matsumoto is the food blogger behind Fresh TastesMarc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.

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