This salmon broccoli pasta is made with fettuccine tossed in a butter, cheese and cream alfredo sauce. Toss the pasta with hot-smoked salmon and broccoli for a decadent dinner!
A few months ago, I loaded my freezer up with lots of hot-smoked salmon.
But there’s another salmon and veggie dish that I’ve had on my mind.
This salmon broccoli pasta is easy to prepare, because most of the ingredients are already prepared for you!
It uses hot-smoked salmon, which is already cooked and simply needs to be flaked apart, frozen broccoli and fettucine pasta. The only thing you’ll need to prepare is the easy alfredo sauce.
What Kind of Smoked Salmon Should I Use?
Look for hot-smoked salmon.
Hot-smoked salmon will look like a plump, cooked salmon fillet. You’ll likely find it in vacuum-sealed packages in the seafood section.
Can I Use Canned Smoked Salmon?
Canned smoked salmon (or actually, even regular canned salmon) will work well in this salmon broccoli pasta.
Can I Use Regular, Un-Smoked Salmon?
You’ll simply need to cook the salmon and flake it apart before adding it to the pasta. This would also be great with leftover salmon.
Can I Use Lox in this Salmon Broccoli Pasta?
Lox gets its silky texture because it is not cooked. If you add it to hot pasta, the heat will, in effect, cook the lox.
How To Make Salmon Broccoli Pasta
Cook the Pasta + Broccoli
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add fettuccine noodles to the pot. When the pasta is almost done cooking, you’ll add frozen broccoli to the water with the noodles and cook them together.
Make Homemade Alfredo Sauce
First of all, let me say that alfredo sauce is one of those foods that some people have strong opinions about.
If you have an alfredo sauce that you love, it’s absolutely fine to swap your sauce for the one in the recipe. The alfredo sauce in this recipe is the version that I prefer to make because it’s easy, delicious and (relatively) fool-proof.
To make the sauce, start by melting butter in a heavy pot.
Add diced garlic and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle.
Next, add cream to the butter.
Bring the cream to a boil, and then continue to simmer the cream until the butter is fully incorporated. In other words, simmer until your sauce is a uniform, pale yellow color with no grease spots from the butter.
Next, add freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Try to grate the cheese as finely as possible, because it will dissolve more quickly that way. I use this microplane grater.
Pre-grated Parmesan won’t work in this recipe because it will not melt into the sauce.
Stir the cheese into the hot cream and butter sauce until the cheese completely melts. It should happen fairly quickly.
If your cheese isn’t melting, try adding a splash or two of the pasta water to the sauce and stir again.
Toss Together the Salmon Broccoli Pasta
Once the sauce is ready, add the pasta, broccoli and a little bit of pasta water to the alfredo sauce.
Use tongs to toss the pasta and veggies into the sauce until the pasta is completely coated.
Add the salmon and toss again.
Make sure everything is coated.
Finally, add a little black pepper to the pasta. If you want, top it with more Parmesan cheese.
Serve your salmon broccoli pasta right away along with a glass of crisp white wine. If you love bread with your pasta, serve it along with a slice of this rosemary garlic sourdough bread!
Salmon Broccoli Pasta
- ½ pound fettuccine Use gluten-free pasta if needed
- 8 ounces frozen broccoli (~2 cups)
- 6 ounces hot-smoked salmon (~1 fillet) See recipe notes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter If using salted butter, omit the sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup freshly + finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve if desired See "Parmesan Cheese Tips" in the recipe notes.
- freshly grated black pepper, to taste About 1 pinch for pre-grated pepper
Cook Pasta + Broccoli:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add the fettuccine. Gently stir the pasta occasionally to prevent it from sticking together.Boil until al dente (about 1 minute less than the package directions call for). About 4 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot.Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and remove pasta and broccoli from the heat.
Prepare the Salmon:
- Flake the salmon apart with a fork. Set aside.If the fillet has skin, discard it.
Make the Alfredo Sauce:
- In a large, deep fry pan or a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the salt.When the butter is melted (but not browned) add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic sizzles.
- Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering about 3 minutes, or until the butter has completely incorporated into the cream. There should be no "oily" butter spots left, and the cream will be a pale yellow color.Turn off the heat and whisk in the Parmesan. Continue whisking until the cheese melts into the sauce.Tip: The butter and cream sauce must be piping hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the cheese will not melt. If you paused your cooking for any reason in between adding the cream and butter, reheat the cream before proceeding.
- Add the pasta, broccoli and ¼ cup of reserved pasta water to cheese sauce and toss to incorporate. (Tongs work well for tossing fettuccine.) At first, it will seem like there is too much sauce. As you continue to toss the pasta, the sauce will begin to cling to the noodles. When there is no sauce (or almost no sauce) pooled on the bottom of the noodles, you're done tossing.If the sauce seems dry or stringy, add another splash of the reserved pasta water. (I usually add at least one splash of pasta water, sometimes two, when cooking this meal.)Tip: If you forgot to reserve pasta water, add a splash of cream, milk or white wine to the sauce instead (not tap water).
- Add the flaked salmon to the pasta. Toss the pasta. Add black pepper to taste.Serve immediately, making sure to evenly distribute the broccoli and salmon when serving. If desired, add extra grated Parmesan after plating.
- Hot smoked-salmon is typically sold with refrigerated seafood, often near the lox. You may also find it frozen. Look for salmon in vacuum-sealed packages that looks like a cooked salmon fillet.
- Canned smoked salmon will also work well.
- Sometimes hot-smoked salmon is packed with seasonings (such as peppercorn). This recipe was not tested with flavored smoked salmon, but as long as the flavoring works with buttery, cheesy pasta, it should work well. (If your salmon is packed with a peppery seasoning, you may want to omit the black pepper from this recipe.)
- This recipe will also work with unsmoked salmon fillets. Cook the salmon and flake it apart before adding it to the pasta, or use high-quality canned salmon (which is already cooked).
- Cold-smoked salmon (or lox) is not recommended. Tossing lox in hot pasta will essentially cook the lox, ruining the silky texture.
- I highly recommend using a microplane grater (or zester) and a wedge of Parmesan (not pre-grated cheese) for this recipe. The more finely the cheese is grated, the easier it will dissolve into the sauce.
- Pre-grated Parmesan (even high-quality) will not work well in this recipe. It’s often tossed in additives to keep it from sticking together. The additives will keep the cheese from melting.
- Store-bought freshly grated cheese is not ideal, because even if there are no additives, it’s generally not grated as finely as you’ll want for this recipe.
- Parmesan Reggiano is considered the best quality Parmesan cheese, and has the most nutty flavor.
- Parmesan Reggiano is not considered a vegetarian (or pescatarian) cheese because of the way it’s processed. If you’re concerned about this, look for a different variety of Parmesan. (You can often find Parmesan wedges labeled “vegetarian”.)