Salmon Pasta without Cream is a decadent and flavorful pasta dish that is ready in about 30 minutes! Flaked salmon is tossed with fresh pasta, roasted cherry tomatoes, and a buttery lemon garlic sauce. It's finished off with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
This simple salmon pasta recipe is light, healthy, fresh, and still tastes like an indulgence! It can be whipped up in under 30 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights.
Since this recipe is made without heavy cream or milk, you'll be craving it in the warm weather months AND in January during New Year's Resolution time.
I try to make fish at least once a week, so when I'm not making this Salmon Pasta without Cream, I'm making my Penne al Salmone, Pesto Crusted Salmon, Blackened Cod, Air Fryer Frozen Salmon, or my Baked Panko Cod.
When you make this recipe, you have to serve it with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and my Apple and Blackberry Crumble. I promise you won't be disappointed!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick & easy - This easy dinner recipe is made in about 30 minutes. This cooking time includes cooking the salmon, roasting the cherry tomatoes, and making the sauce!
- Kid-friendly - If you want to make the pasta with salmon more kid-friendly, you can easily swap out the salmon for cooked chicken.
- No cream sauce - Since this dinner recipe is made without calorie-heavy ingredients like milk and cream, it won't give you that weighed-down, groggy feeling you can get after eating pasta.
- Special-diet friendly - You can make this recipe even healthier by using gluten-free pasta or bean and lentil pasta.
Salmon: My recipe calls for frozen salmon, but fresh salmon is also an option. I prefer to use wild-caught Atlantic salmon.
Pasta: I tested this recipe a few times, using a variety of different pasta shapes. I found that penne pasta noodles were the best fit! I don't use an entire box of pasta (only 12 ounces) because I feel it is just too much. You can use the entire box if you want to, though!
Sauce: The no-cream sauce calls for salted butter, dry white wine, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, freshly minced garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper.
Vegetables: In my opinion, pasta recipes are 10 times better if they include vegetables! Juicy and intensely flavored roasted cherry tomatoes work perfectly in this recipe.
Additional ingredients: This pasta dish is finished off with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
*A detailed ingredient list is found in the recipe card below.
- Large stock pot or saucepan to boil the pasta in.
- Rimmed baking sheet to cook the salmon and the cherry tomatoes on.
- Large skillet to make the sauce in.
- Cutting board, chopping knife, measuring cups, and measuring spoons
How to make Salmon Pasta without Cream
Step 1: Preheat your oven. Place the salmon (skin side down) and the cherry tomatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and generously season with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes at 450°F.
Step 2: Cook 12 ounces of dry pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve ¼ cup of starchy pasta water. Drain the rest of the pasta water and set the cooked pasta aside.
Tip! Don't forget to salt your pasta water after it has come to a boil! The salt will enhance the flavor of the pasta, starchy pasta water, and the lemon garlic sauce.
Step 3: Melt the salted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and diced yellow onion. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.
Step 4: Add the white wine, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, reserved pasta water, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the skillet. Mix until smooth and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Tip! Do not let your butter burn or turn brown. I cook this sauce over medium heat. I watch it carefully, though, and if the butter starts to look like it's getting too hot, I reduce the heat.
Step 5: Flake the salmon and mix it into the sauce. Mixing the flaked salmon into the sauce before tossing it into the pasta, allows the salmon to soak up some of the buttery, delicious sauce.
Step 6: Pour the sauce with the flaked salmon over the pasta and mix it together. Gently toss the roasted tomatoes into the pasta. Cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes) become very delicate after they're roasted.
Top the salmon pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Variations and substitutions
Salmon: You can easily swap out the salmon for chicken, shrimp, or scallops. Canned salmon would also work! Make this a vegetarian recipe by eliminating all animal protein.
Vegetables: I think asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, broccoli, or frozen peas would all be delicious in this pasta recipe.
Pasta: This recipe is best when it's made with penne pasta. If you don't have penne, large macaroni shells, farfalle, or rotini noodles also work. Substitute gluten-free pasta to make this a gluten-free recipe.
Storage and reheating
Healthy salmon pasta is best served fresh! Leftover salmon pasta will keep for a few days, though.
How to store: Store leftover pasta and salmon in a glass, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to reheat: Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop in a small saucepan.
Pasta side dishes
Salmon Pasta without Cream doesn't need any side dishes because it contains protein, fat, vegetables, and carbs. It's a complete meal all on its own! If you want to include some sides, I recommend:
- Balsamic Roasted Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts
- Butternut and Beetroot Salad
- Sauteed Kale and Mushrooms
- Marinated Vegetable Salad
- Vegan Garlic Bread
- Prep your ingredients before you get started. You're roasting your salmon and tomatoes, boiling your pasta, and making your sauce all at the same time. You won't have time to stop and peel an onion.
- Salt your pasta water after it has come to a boil. I like to use regular table salt. You can use up to 1 tablespoon of salt, per pound of pasta. Salt gives otherwise bland pasta some flavor. We also use some of that salty, starchy pasta water in our sauce!
- When making the sauce, do not let your butter burn or turn brown! Reduce the heat as needed.
- If your cherry tomatoes cook faster than your frozen salmon, just remove them from the sheet pan and continue cooking your salmon.
- Make sure your garlic and onions are fresh. Garlic and onion are the star ingredients in the sauce. You want them to be fresh and flavorful!
- My recipe calls for salted butter and salty, starchy pasta water. This is why I don't add any additional salt to the sauce recipe.
- Add some red pepper flakes if you like your pasta recipes to have a little bit of heat!
Frequently asked questions
Substitutes for heavy cream include half and half, whole milk, water plus corn starch, milk plus flour, and canned coconut milk.
Yes, pasta goes well with salmon and a delicious sauce. Sauces like marinara, vodka, alfredo, and cheddar cheese sauce are all delicious options.
All vegetables, potatoes, winter squash, rice, and bread go well with salmon.
Yes, whole milk is a common substitute for heavy cream in creamy pasta recipes.
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