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Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon

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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?

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

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

While the pasta cooks, season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper to taste and bake it until cooked. Baking and cutting the salmon later will result in flakier salmon bits. If you want your salmon to have more form, try cubing it while it’s raw and pan-frying it in olive until cooked about 3-4 minutes per side. 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 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 really know the difference between regular olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, here’s a great guide explaining it. But long story short, extra virgin is the way to go for tossing, dressing and dipping.

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

Add some fresh basil leaves to the pasta too. I don’t know about you but I love the scent and taste of fresh basil leaves. It’s one of my favorite herbs. Throw in some freshly minced garlic too and salt and pepper to taste, then toss the pasta to mix. If you feel you need more olive oil, go ahead and add another tablespoon or so.

Then we add fresh lemon juice, zest and capers to the pasta for some lemony flavor. Yum. By now the salmon should be cooked, so flake it or if you cubed it before, simply add it to the pasta. Cubing it prior to cooking makes it firmer, so you can toss the pasta and salmon with more gusto. If you flake it after baking it, be gentle during the tossing so you don’t end up with salmon shreds. If you don’t mind salmon shreds, toss away!

As usual, 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 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!

PS: If you enjoy the pairing of lemon with salmon, try out lemon and parmesan crusted salmon.

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

Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. rigatoni/pasta
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup 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 reheating and the pasta is dry, add more olive oil after reheating it to moisten it up.

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

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89 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeremy
    May 21, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    just seen this recipe, inspired me to try it using fettucine as i dont have any rigatoni, great idea – thanks from Switzerland where fresh Salmon is like gold.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      May 23, 2017 at 8:33 PM

      Fettuccine works too. I hope you liked it, Jeremy. I might just make another batch soon, Have a hankering for it now.

  • Reply
    Kes
    June 21, 2017 at 5:54 AM

    Made this yesterday and my husband and I loved it! It is simple, yet so tasty and flavourful. Will definitely be making it again.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      June 22, 2017 at 3:44 PM

      We just bought some salmon from Costco so we’re gonna be making this for ourselves again soon. I’ve been craving it lately. Thanks for trying it out, Kes!

  • Reply
    Tashina Schimming
    July 31, 2017 at 8:43 AM

    This was amazing!!! Thank you!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 2, 2017 at 1:56 AM

      Thank you, Tashina! I recently made another batch for myself this year and it was still as good as I remember it. I’m glad you liked it too!

  • Reply
    Mariana
    November 25, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    I just made this and it was phenomenal! I was just out of capers and parmesan, the parmesan would make this dish just better, I didn’t miss the capers, though. Will definitely be making this again!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 6, 2017 at 12:49 AM

      Capers are either you love it or hate it. I used to hate it but it grew on me. The Parmesan flakes are honestly one of the best parts of this dish, don’t miss out on it next time 😉

  • Reply
    The Cooking Jar
    December 6, 2017 at 12:47 AM

    You’re welcome, Samantha!

  • Reply
    Daniela
    December 14, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    As a person who doesn’t cook often. THIS WAS AMAZING. Super simple and easy to follow. I dint have salmon so I used shrimp but I loved it.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 29, 2018 at 4:56 PM

      Shrimp works too, just gotta be careful not to overcook them. Once they start shrinking and curling too much, they’re overcooked! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Peonyy
    December 16, 2017 at 11:54 PM

    My son suggested me try your salmon pasta. It’s delicious. Thank you.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 29, 2018 at 4:57 PM

      Wow, I’m flattered to be recommended like that!

  • Reply
    AnnMarie
    January 16, 2018 at 6:55 PM

    Made this tonight for dinner. It was amazing!!! I also added fresh shrimp with the salmon and the family loved it!!! Will make it again

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 29, 2018 at 4:58 PM

      Shrimp and salmon, it’s nice to hear of the variations you guys have done!

  • Reply
    Karen BRASETH
    January 22, 2018 at 2:45 PM

    IT is very good as written, and is extremely similar to one of my family‘s favourite recipes, tuna lemon caper pasta.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 29, 2018 at 4:59 PM

      Never tried it with tuna before. I’m guessing since it’s a family favorite, the flavors work too!

  • Reply
    Lis
    February 3, 2018 at 11:01 AM

    Are there any light cheese I can use apart from parmesan? Cos my family don’t like the taste of parmesan. The only cheese they like is mozzarella

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      February 5, 2018 at 1:38 AM

      Not that I know really. If they don’t enjoy Parmesan then I suggest leaving it out. Good luck, Lis!

  • Reply
    Jason
    February 13, 2018 at 12:44 PM

    This is a lovely recipe! I blanch some diagonally cut bite size pieces of asparagus for a couple of minutes, ice bathe them to stop cooking, and sauce in some butter and lemon juice and add to the dish as well as some red chili flake. Lots of options to make this your own. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      February 19, 2018 at 5:42 PM

      Wonderful addition. I can see you know your way around the kitchen with the ice bath and spicy lemon butter sauce. Asparagus plays really nice with this to add some crunch as well as a splash of green on top of the basil leaves.

  • Reply
    Annette
    February 17, 2018 at 3:43 AM

    Saw this recipe and my mouth watered. Made it that night and I have to say, it’s delicious. Light, flavoursome and super easy to make. I’m coeliac and used gluten free pasta and turned out perfect. This will be regular I think.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      February 19, 2018 at 5:43 PM

      It’s good to know it’s just as tasty with gluten free pasta, Annette! Thank you for trying it out.

  • Reply
    Alice Taylor
    March 11, 2018 at 10:36 AM

    This has become a Friday night regular in our house now. With good quality, organic ingredients, this dish is a harmony of flavours 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 27, 2018 at 3:55 PM

      I’m glad to hear it’s a staple somewhere! You cook it more often than I do at this point 😉 I usually make it once a year when I remember, usually it’s after answering comments here. 🙂

  • Reply
    Deb
    April 6, 2018 at 6:39 PM

    Looks fabulous, but sadly I have no fresh basil! Not sure the dried stuff would do this justice, so saving for another day. (Which should be soon, as we have salmon weekly!) thanks,

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 27, 2018 at 3:57 PM

      I do recommend fresh basil. It makes a world of difference. There’s some herbs that are okay dried but some that lose all its flavor. Basil is one of them. And since the dish is very, very simple with few specific ingredients to carry the flavor, you’ll be missing out!

  • Reply
    Paul M Levisohn
    July 5, 2018 at 9:59 PM

    Beautiful recipe with left over salmon from July 4 get-together. Easy, tasty. I served it at room temperature since salmon was already cooked. Will definitely use this recipe again. I loved that it was not a cream sauce – the lemon was outstanding.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 18, 2018 at 3:47 PM

      Thanks for trying it out, Paul. I’m hearing a lot how it works great with leftover salmon, so I’m glad people have managed to find a way to re-purpose those leftovers !

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