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salmon broccoli pasta in a serving dish
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5 from 2 votes

Salmon Broccoli Pasta

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!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 521kcal

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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

Instructions

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.
    Flake the Salmon with a Fork

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 Garlic to Melted Butter
  • 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.
    Stir Cheese Until Melted
  • 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).
    Toss Pasta + Broccoli in the Sauce
  • 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.
    Toss Salmon with Pasta

Notes

Serves 4 modestly or 2 generously.  For 4 hungry eaters, serve along with other side dishes.
Salmon Tips:
  • 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.
Parmesan Cheese Tips:
  • 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".)
Alfredo Sauce Notes:  Alfredo di Lelio's original version used just pasta, butter and Parmesan.  Other Italian versions add cream and egg.  This version is the one I prefer, but if you have a favorite, simply swap your sauce and add the salmon (and peas, if desired).

Nutrition

Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 641mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1233IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 214mg | Iron: 2mg