This summer salmon pasta salad is perfect for those of us that want something unique, healthy, and yummy to eat.
Make it ahead and serve it cold, and you’ve got a deliciously nutritious meal worth making more than once!
Healthy Salmon Pasta Salad
Why is this the perfect salmon salad recipe? Because, for starters, you can whip it up in just 25 minutes, with minimum cooking time. The only cooking involved in this recipe is making the pasta and searing the salmon to tender perfection. Other than that, it’s just a simple mix-and-toss recipe!
Secondly, it is healthy! So, for all of you who are keeping a track of your macros, this salmon pasta salad is the perfect combination of carbs, protein, and other nutrient-dense ingredients.
And, most importantly, it tastes amazing! Perfectly cooked salmon pieces, crunchy red onions, sweet cherry tomatoes, and the savory pesto… all mixed with penne pasta and sprinkled with parmesan cheese and basil… the result is a tempting salad we all love.
This recipe came together when I made extra salmon baked in foil one night and needed a quick meal the next day. Other than that, this healthy salmon pasta recipe is made with easy-to-find ingredients.
So, let’s go through what you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Penne pasta: I used penne pasta for this recipe as it is commonly used for salads; however, you can also use elbow macaroni or any other kind of pasta.
- Fresh Salmon: If you want your salad to turn out flavorful, use fresh Salmon. But, if it’s unavailable, canned Salmon will also do.
- Salt and pepper: for seasoning.
- Olive oil: To fry the Salmon fillets.
- Red onion: Make sure to thinly slice the onion to bring out maximum flavor.
- Cherry tomatoes: They taste great and add an appetizing color to your salad.
- Pesto: You can use store-bought or homemade pesto for this recipe.
- Lemon juice: To give your salmon pasta salad that tangy flavor.
- Parmesan or Romano cheese: Cheese makes everything better! Grate the cheese and sprinkle it before serving.
- Fresh basil shreds: To add that lovely green color to the recipe.
How to Make Salmon Pasta Salad
This salmon pasta salad is one of my favorite recipes when I’m in a hurry. You just have to cook the pasta and the Salmon fillets, and then mix everything in it!
It’s a great option for your kids’ lunchbox, BBQs, potluck suppers, or simply a quick afternoon snack.
Here are the steps for this recipe which you’ll be able to print in detail below:
- Cook the pasta
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain the water and transfer the pasta to a large salad bowl.
- Prep the salmon
Pat dry salmon fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Cook the salmon
In a large pan with a little olive oil, cook the salmon on both sides until the meat flakes off easily. Remove from heat, coarsely chop it into chunks and add them to the bowl with the pasta.
- Build the pasta salad
To the salmon and pasta, add the remaining salad ingredients.
- Dress the salad
Add the pesto and lemon juice to the salad bowl and toss to combine the ingredients, and evenly distribute the pesto in the salad.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese and fresh basil shreds on the salad before serving.
Watch this quick video to see just how easy it is to make salmon pasta salad!
Can You Freeze Salmon Pasta Salad
I would not recommend freezing the salmon pasta salad since the pasta tends to lose its texture and fresh tomatoes don’t freeze well; however, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
What to Serve with Summer Salmon Pasta Salad
Salads usually go with everything as a side dish. So, you can serve the salmon pasta salad with burgers, grilled meat, sausages, kebabs, or sandwiches. Here are a few of my favorites:
Salmon Pasta Salad for Summer
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 8 ounces fresh salmon, about 2 fillets
- Salt and pepper, for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup pesto, store-bought or homemade
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese
- Fresh basil shreds, for garnish and optional
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain water out and transfer the pasta into a large salad bowl and allow the pasta to cool down completely.
- Pat dry salmon fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the salmon to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side until golden/seared on each side and the meat separates easily with a fork. Remove from the pan onto a plate.
- Break up the salmon into large pieces and add them to the pasta bowl along with the red onions and cherry tomatoes.
- Add the pesto into the salad bowl, the lemon juice, and toss to combine all ingredients to evenly distribute the pesto throughout. If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water to stretch the dressing a little.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese and fresh basil shreds, if using, and toss to combine before serving.