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Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Here’s one of my favorite light, summery, sunny type pastas. This light lemon garlic pasta with salmon also has the good fortune of being healthy!

It’s all about simplicity and freshness. With fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, capers and salmon, you practically have summer on a plate.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

And to top it off, for a tiny bit of decadence, we’ll sprinkle some Parmesan loving on it. There’s no cream sauce to carry it so this is all about the goodness and tastiness of high quality olive oil mixed with fresh, awesome flavors.

Shall we?

HOW TO MAKE LIGHT LEMON GARLIC PASTA WITH SALMON (1 MIN):

LIGHT LEMON GARLIC PASTA TIPS AND TRICKS:

Start off by cooking the pasta. I went with rigatoni for this recipe but you can use any kind of pasta you like: spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, pappardelle or other tube-type pastas. If you want it even healthier, sub with whole wheat pasta instead.

While the pasta cooks, season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper to taste and bake it until cooked. You can also pan-sear  the salmon for a something crispier, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. However you decide to prep your salmon, make sure to flake or cube it into bite-sized pieces so there’s enough to go around once we mix it all up later.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Mince the garlic, chop the basil and get your lemon rind ready while the pasta and salmon cooks. As usual, I’m gonna advocate using a microplane for grating your rind and Parmesan cheese. It’s worth it.

Drain the pasta and mix it all up with some good quality olive oil. You’ll want something high quality because this will be the ‘sauce’ that binds the flavors together, so it has be delicious. I used extra virgin olive oil here. If you don’t know the difference between regular olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, here’s a great guide explaining it. Feel free to add more olive oil if you feel the pasta is a bit too dry for your liking and be sure to add some while heating up any leftovers.

Now it’s time to add in some fresh basil to the pasta. If you can’t justify getting fresh basil for just one dish and don’t have any growing in your garden, an alternative is to use lightly dried basil from Gourmet Garden. It looks like this and you should be able to find it in the fresh vegetable aisle in your grocery store. They smell fresher than the usual dried herbs and keep long in the fridge. Throw in some freshly minced garlic with some salt and pepper to taste, then toss the pasta to mix.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Then we add fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and capers to the pasta for some citrus flavor. By now the salmon should be cooked, so flake it then add it to the pasta. Be gentle during the tossing so you don’t end up with salmon shreds.

Baking time of the salmon will vary depending on how thick your fillet is. The standard rule of thumb is to cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness which is measured from the salmon’s thickest point. If you start getting too much whitish stuff, you’ve cooked it too long.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

And you’re ready to serve. Now the fun part begins by plating the pasta and topping it with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese. I prefer shaved cause every now and then I find a Parmesan shaving and it feels like you’ve discovered some treasure. Also, if you happen to like olives, this pasta really goes well with it!

Happy eating!

For a creamier version with a white wine sauce, try out this creamy salmon pasta with spinach. If you enjoy the pairing of lemon with salmon, try out some lemon and parmesan-crusted salmon.

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A plate of salmon pasta with fresh basil and lemon wedges.

Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Description

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 16 oz. rigatoni/pasta
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. salmon fillet
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions
  2. Meanwhile, season salmon with salt and pepper to taste and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with garlic, olive oil, basil and season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. Add lemon juice, zest and capers to the pasta and toss to mix
  5. Flake the salmon into bite-size pieces
  6. Gently toss salmon with the pasta
  7. Dish and serve hot topped with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

Notes

If the pasta feels too dry when reheating leftovers, add more olive oil after heating it up.

A no fuss recipe for slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken. It's literally set and forget until it's time to eat. Serve with coleslaw, pickles and chips!

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114 Comments

  • Reply
    J
    November 7, 2020 at 9:08 PM

    It was nice and light for a pasta dish.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 10:44 PM

      Thanks so much for coming back to let me know, J. Happy to have helped!

  • Reply
    Emily
    November 3, 2020 at 2:42 PM

    Love this. I actually blended all the ingredients and stirred through the pasta before adding the salmon and the parmesan…. just meant I could include capers as my Husband refuses to eat them…. He was non the wiser and made a clean plate! THank you absolutely delicious

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 10:44 PM

      I LOVE that you snuck it in. Had a great laugh reading your comment and the sneaky capers!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Butler
    October 6, 2020 at 9:18 PM

    I made this dish tonight for the first time because my 18 year old daughter is trying to eat healthier. I used cauliflower penne pasta. I had never used that kind of pasta before and was nervous. The meal was delicious! It was also very easy! I am not very good in the kitchen so to find a delicious and healthy meal that is easy too is a major win. I will definitely make it again.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 10:43 PM

      Hey Rebecca. Thanks for taking a chance and trying out the recipe. I’m glad it was easy enough to follow for you! I’ve never tried cauliflower pasta before; didn’t even know it was a thing till now. I’m happy you guys found a recipe that will help your daughter eat healthier.

  • Reply
    Jason
    September 14, 2020 at 1:25 AM

    Looks like a great recipe, Its still a little wintry where i am so i will add just a splash of Chicken stock and a small splash of cream. Also switch out the Basil for some dill. Definitely the capers will rock it!and the Parmesan 😉
    Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 14, 2020 at 9:08 AM

      Definitely make it a little creamy to cozy up for a chilly day. Dill will work too, I love salmon and dill. You’re very welcome and happy customizing!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    August 12, 2020 at 8:31 PM

    How long should I bake the salmon? Should I broil it too?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:06 AM

      Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness. A good rule of thumb is to bake 4-6 minutes per half-inch thickness of salmon (the thickest part of the salmon, usually the middle).

      You can broil it too at 400 degrees for 2-3 minutes to glaze the top if you’d like, but that’s purely optional. It’s all going to be flaked anyway.

  • Reply
    Jennifer Cortinas
    June 30, 2020 at 1:22 PM

    I made this last summer and loved it so much that searched for it again and am so glad I found it! Delicious and healthy! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Jennifer Cortinas
      June 30, 2020 at 1:23 PM

      Meant to give it 5 stars!

      • Reply
        The Cooking Jar
        August 14, 2020 at 10:11 AM

        I’m glad you found it again and thanks for leaving a review this year. I hope it brightens your summer again next year!

  • Reply
    pharmanda
    June 28, 2020 at 10:09 PM

    This was SO good! I used a seaweed pasta from Blue Evolution that was a great pairing. Thanks for the great (and easy!) recipe, I’ll be looking through your collection for more!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:11 AM

      Absolutely and thanks for trying it out with some fancy pasta! I’m glad it worked out. I’ve never personally tried or even heard of seaweed pasta before!

  • Reply
    Helen
    June 20, 2020 at 5:55 AM

    I had a couple of leftover salmon fillets , always have
    pasta in the cupboard, fresh parsley was looking for a recipe and I came across yours. amazing. I added in some olives and Capers, broccoli and feta cheese on top. Yummy.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:09 AM

      Excellent additions! Black or kalamata olives fit so well with this flavor profile! Broccoli works as will cut asparagus spears. It’s wonderful seeing someone build off a recipe and how creative they get. Thanks for letting us know!

  • Reply
    Ros
    June 16, 2020 at 7:04 AM

    So delicious – thank you for creating this recipe!! Really quick to make and not too much required to make it. Perfect as was not as heavy as most pastas can be but still full of flavour. Really loved it and so did my Husband 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:07 AM

      You’re very welcome, Ros! This is our go-to for spring/summer pasta. We make it practically every year. I’m glad to have shared it with your household too!

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