Quick Salmon Pesto Pasta

Everyone in the family is going to love the flavor of this easy Salmon Pesto Pasta!


  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 812 ounces fresh salmon, about 23 fillets
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped small
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half & half*
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Fresh basil shreds, for garnish


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.
  2. Pat dry salmon fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes until they begin to look translucent and are soft Add the cherry tomatoes and cook with the onions for about 3 minutes, right before they begin to pop but they are beginning to look wrinkly. Remove from the pan onto a large plate.
  4. Add the salmon to the pan and cook, skin-side-up first to get a sear on the top side, for 3 minutes per side until golden/seared on each side and the meat separates easily with a fork. Remove from the pan onto the plate. If the salmon has skin on, carefully remove it now.
  5. Remove any excess oil from the pan but leave the tidbits at the bottom.
  6. Add the cream or half and half to the pan and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. If making a lighter version, use pasta water instead of the cream. Bring it to a simmer and with a wooden spatula, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the pesto and mix to incorporate it with the sauce.
  7. Break up the salmon into large pieces and add them to the pan along with the tomatoes and onions. Toss the cooked pasta in, and mix to coat everything with the sauce. If you want your pasta to be saucier, add a little more reserved pasta water to the pan and mix.
  8. Right before serving, squeeze ½ a lemon on top of the pasta mixture and toss to combine.
  9. Serve with fresh basil shreds and parmesan cheese, if desired.



Make this salmon pesto pasta lighter by swapping the cream or half & half with additional pasta water.