This smoked salmon alfredo is made with fettuccine tossed in a butter, cheese and cream sauce. Toss the pasta with hot-smoked salmon and peas for a decadent dinner!
Who else absolutely adores smoked salmon?
It's true, smoked salmon is easy to love!
A few weeks ago, I stocked my freezer with both lox and hot-smoked salmon, and it was so exciting!
But guys, I knew what I wanted to do with the hot-smoked salmon. It was headed straight for a big bowl of pasta!
This smoked salmon alfredo is made with salmon, fettuccine and an easy alfredo sauce. It's perfect for date night or comfort food!
What Kind of Smoked Salmon Should I Use?
You're looking for hot-smoked salmon.
Hot-smoked salmon is generally sold in refrigerated or frozen vacuum-sealed packages. It's usually near the lox.
You're looking for smoked salmon that looks like a plump cooked fillet of salmon.
Can I Use Canned Smoked Salmon?
Canned smoked salmon will work perfectly.
Can I Use Lox Instead?
Technically, yes, but I really don't recommend that.
Lox is salt-cured, uncooked salmon. It's sold in thin, silky slices.
Adding lox to hot pasta will cook the lox, ruining the texture.
Can I Use Unsmoked Salmon?
You'll be missing the smoky flavor, but your dinner will still be delicious.
Simply cook the salmon and flake it apart before using.
How to Prepare the Smoked Salmon
Open the package (or can) and flake the salmon apart with a fork.
That's it! Set the salmon aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.
How to Prepare the Peas
I like to add some type of vegetable to my pasta dishes. It makes me feel like I'm making healthier life choices.
If you prefer, you can skip the peas completely. But I like them, so I think they're worth adding!
To prepare the frozen peas, you have two options.
First, you could simply thaw the peas.
If you don't have time for that, bring a little water to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat, add the peas and cover the pan.
They'll be ready in just a few minutes.
How to Make (Easy) Alfredo Sauce
First, I'll just acknowledge that there are SO MANY different ways to make alfredo sauce, and this version is not the authentic "butter and cheese only" version.
Because I think adding a little cream makes the sauce slightly more fool-proof. Also, it's delicious this way.
But if you have a method that you prefer, you can swap your favorite sauce for mine in this recipe.
Melt Butter + Cook Garlic
I start by melting butter.
Once the butter is melted (but not browned), add diced garlic.
Add Cream + Parmesan
When the garlic starts to sizzle, add some cream.
Bring the cream to a simmer and continue simmering until the butter is incorporated into the cream. It's ready when you no longer see separate oily butter spots.
Next, stir Parmesan into the hot cream.
The cream has to be hot and Parmesan has to be freshly and finely grated.
I use this microplane grater to grate a wedge of Parmesan.
Pre-grated cheese will not work, because it won't melt into the cream and you'll end up with stringy sauce.
Your sauce should be silky and smooth at this point.
Finish the Smoked Salmon Alfredo
Now it's time to put everything together.
Add some al dente fettuccine and a little pasta water to the sauce and start tossing the pasta into the sauce.
Keep tossing the pasta until the sauce coats the pasta and there's not much sauce pooling in the pan.
Next, add the smoked salmon and peas. Toss it all together.
Top the smoked salmon alfredo with a little more Parmesan, and serve the pasta along with glass of crisp white wine.
Smoked Salmon Alfredo
- ½ pound fettuccine Use gluten-free pasta if needed
- 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
- 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
- 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). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and remove pasta from the heat.
- For optional peas:Add about 1" of water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the peas. Cover the pan and turn off the heat. Drain after about 4 minutes, or when the peas are tender.Alternatively, simply thaw the peas before using. Do not attempt to cook the peas by adding to the salty pasta water, because it will dehydrate the peas.
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 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 peas and flaked salmon to the pasta. Toss the pasta. Add black pepper to taste.Serve immediately, making sure to evenly distribute the peas 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".)