This simple Smoked Salmon Pasta salad is a delicious make-ahead recipe perfect for a summer picnic or lunch.
It is easy to scale up and make for a crowd, and uses smoked salmon trimmings to add bags of flavor without excessive cost! Plus it is so simple to make (check out the video to see just how easy!) so you can serve it at a pot luck or summer BBQ.
Forget soggy pasta salads or overly dry dishes, this is creamy, rich and full of deliciousness!
Video - how to make the smoked salmon pasta salad
How to cook pasta for pasta salad
When making pasta for pasta salad, cook your pasta for 2 minutes longer than the packet suggests as it wants to be softer than if you were serving it hot. This is because when pasta cools the starch in the pasta goes through a process called retrogradation, and this can give cooled pasta the texture of undercooked pasta. So by cooking the pasta for a little longer, it will be a little too soft to serve hot, but when cold it will return to the perfect al dente texture.
When cooking pasta to serve cold you want to really ensure you salt the pasta water. Salting pasta water is always important, but cold dishes need extra seasoning as the chilled temperature can dull the flavors. So add more salt than normal to your pasta water.
What’s the best pasta for pasta salad?
You want to pick a pasta that will hold up to some stirring. So I would avoid things like farfalle (bowtie) pasta.
These spirals work well, or you can go more traditional with a macaroni. A penne, rotini, or a ziti would also be a good choice.
What smoked salmon to use for pasta?
For this recipe, I suggest buying the packets of smoked salmon trimmings. They are perfect here as the salmon is already cut into small pieces and they work out far more cost effective than the larger slices.
Either way, ensure the smoked salmon is chopped up into bite-sized pieces, this makes it easier to mix through the pasta salad and also helps ensure that each mouthful has a little smoked salmon in it.
How to make a creamy dressing for pasta salad
This pasta salad has a dressing made from mayonnaise and sour cream. This creates a wonderful creamy dressing with a little sour edge, perfect for smoked salmon!
To be healthier you can replace the sour cream with greek yogurt, but the flavor will be different.
This simple dressing just needs salt and pepper adding to it - as lemon zest, dill and chives will be added to the salad for extra flavor.
If you enjoy pasta salads then why not try these other ideas:
- Peri Peri Chicken Pasta Salad
- Tomato Orzo Salad
- Hawaiian Chicken Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad (Peas and Crayons)
- Chicken and Veggie Pasta Salad (Kidgredients)
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad (Recipes from a Pantry)
- Taco Pasta Salad (Sugar and Soul)
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Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad Recipe
- 2 cups dried pasta (see note 1)
- 3 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoon sour cream
- ¼ cup celery (chopped)
- 2 tablespoon gherkins (chopped) (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives (chopped)
- 3 oz smoked salmon (see note 3)
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- Cook the pasta in well salted water for 2 minutes longer than the packet suggests. Once cooked, drain and quickly cool the pasta under cold. running water.
- Mix the mayonnaise and sour cream together in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and stir gently to coat the pasta.
- Add the chopped celery, gherkins, dill and chives to the pasta and then fold together to combine all the ingredients.
- Add the smoked salmon pieces and stir well.
- Grate in 1 tablespoon of lemon zest (save the lemon for a G&T later)
- Garnish with extra dill and chives and serve, or refrigerate for upto 24 hours.
- You want to pick a pasta that will hold up to some stirring. So I would avoid things like farfalle (bowtie) pasta. Spirals work well, or you can go more traditional with a macaroni. A penne, rotini, or a ziti would also be a good choice.
- I like to use baby gherkins in this recipe as they tend to be crunchier and a little less sweet. But use your favorite kind.
- This recipe works perfectly with smoked salmon trimmings, making it more cost effective!
For more delicious pasta recipes check out:
This fresh dill just made this pasta salad! Thanks for a great recipe!
Claire McEwen says
I agree so much!!! I love fresh dill, so pleased you enjoyed the pasta 😀
This recipe shouts luxury... but without too much effort! = my idea of a perfect recipe. Fabulous - thank you for this idea!
Claire McEwen says
Low effort luxury 😀 I like the way that sounds Helen, thank you so much.
What’s the lemon for? You list it on the ingredient list but there is nothing in the actual recipe?
Claire McEwen says
You grate the lemon into the pasta salad with the salmon.
I mention it in the video but forgot to add it to the instructions, I have updated them now.