Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta
Creamy pasta paired with smoked salmon makes the perfect special occasion brunch dish. Rich and decadent, Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta is a favorite for either brunch or dinner!
If someone asks you to name your top five favorite dishes, would you have an answer? I would have to think long and hard about my full list but this Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta would most definitely be on the list.
It’s rich and creamy (oh so decadent!) and perfectly salty – it hits all my favorite textures and flavors.
I first shared this post back in 2014, but with Mother’s Day coming up, this deserved some fresh new photos and a little attention back on the front page.
This is not your everyday pasta dish. It’s loaded with heavy cream and egg yolks, which is why it’s so incredibly rich. This is special occasion pasta. This is a celebration brunch pasta.
While it’s perfectly acceptable for dinner, I always think of this as a brunch dish. Maybe it’s the smoked salmon, which screams “bagel brunch!” Plus, it pairs so nicely with fluffy omelets, delicious scones, and a big fruit salad. Instant easy brunch!
The most time-consuming step in this recipe is boiling the pasta. (In other words, it’s super easy and quick to throw together.) . It’s much better served warm since the creamy sauce thickens significantly when cold, so I like to toss it together just before serving.
Whether you serve it for brunch, lunch, dinner, or any time in between, this pasta with smoked salmon is a guaranteed hit!
Ingredients and Substitutions
The ingredient list for this smoked salmon pasta recipe is pretty short and sweet!
- Pasta: Farfalle is my favorite shape for this (the sauce clings to the ridges so well!) but use whatever type of pasta – wheat or gluten-free – you prefer.
- Vodka: Substitution options for the vodka include white wine or chicken broth.
- Heavy Cream
- Smoked Salmon
- Egg Yolks
- Fresh Chives
How to Make Easy Smoked Salmon Pasta
- Cook the Pasta: Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the farfalle according to the package instructions.
- Saute the Leek: In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced leek and saute until fragrant.
- Create the Creamy Base: Pour in the heavy cream and let it simmer until reduced by half.
- Combine Pasta and Sauce: Toss the cooked pasta into the pan with the creamy sauce, ensuring all the pasta is well coated. Add the egg yolks and stir over low heat until the yolks are warmed through and the sauce is creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add Smoked Salmon: Gently fold in the thinly sliced smoked salmon and top with chives.
Egg Yolk to Thicken Sauces
One of the reasons this pasta is so delicious is the luxuriously thick sauce. We’re able to achieve such a thick sauce thanks to two main ingredients: heavy cream and egg yolks. (I mean, really, what a winning combination!) But did you know that the egg yolk does more than just thicken and add richness – it also helps hold the sauce together? It’s time for my favorite subject – kitchen chemistry!
Sauces made with heavy cream can “break” – meaning the sauce separates out into a fat component and a runny, watery component. Egg yolks are high in lecithin, a natural emulsifier. When combined with the heavy cream, which contains a high percentage of fat, these emulsifiers help to stabilize the fat and disperse the fat molecules evenly throughout the sauce, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture that clings to the pasta.
If you’re worried about eating “raw” egg yolks, don’t worry – they are fully cooked by the end of this recipe. Turn the heat down to low and add the egg yolks, stirring continuously to prevent the egg yolk from scrambling. The very low heat will cook the yolk as it is mixed in with the heavy cream and pasta. If you want to be super sure it’s thoroughly heated, use an instant read thermometer in the sauce and continue to cook over low heat until the temperature registers as 160 °F.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Smoked Salmon Pasta
- Quality is Key: Because there are so few ingredients in this pasta, start with the best quality ingredients, especially when it comes to smoked salmon. Opt for fresh, high-quality smoked salmon for the best flavor and texture.
- Perfect Al Dente Pasta: Cook the farfalle pasta to al dente – the pasta will heat a little more while it mixes with the sauce and egg yolks. Start with al dente pasta prevents it from becoming mushy once combined with the cream sauce.
- Don’t Overcook the Salmon: Fold in the salmon last, allowing it to warm up without cooking through. Because the smoked salmon is sliced so thin, it doesn’t take much heat to cook it and lose the characteristic flavor of smoked salmon!
- Add Extra Flavors: The base for this recipe is pretty simple and absolutely delicious as is. But if you’d like to switch it up, adding a little dill and lemon zest or (my personal favorite!) everything bagel seasoning makes it taste like an entirely different dish.
- Serve Fresh: Between the egg yolks and heavy cream, this is a dish best served fresh – refrigeration will cause the sauce to thicken significantly and reheating cooks the salmon the whole way through. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but the dish should be made fresh just before serving for the best experience.
More Brunch Recipes:
- Best Belgian Waffles
- Babka French Toast Casserole
- Blueberry Blintzes
- Smoked Salmon Egg Muffins
- Banana Bread French Toast
- 1 pound farfalle pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 leek, diced
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into thin strips
- 3 egg yolks, gently beaten
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- Cook the farfalle in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a deep skillet. Add the leek and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until evaporated. Add the heavy cream and simmer over moderate heat, stirring often, until reduced by half, 5-6 minutes.
- Drain the farfalle and add to the skillet, stirring well to coat with the heavy cream. Add the egg yolks and stir over low heat until warmed through and the sauce is creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Remove from the heat and fold in the smoked salmon. Scatter chives on top of the pasta.
- White wine or chicken broth can be used instead of the vodka.
- Cook the pasta only to al dente, as it will cook further once added to the sauce.
- For extra flavor variations, add a little dill and lemon zest at the end or sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning.
- The sauce is creamiest and the flavor is best immediately after making but leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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