This Italian dinner meal pasta recipe for Penne al Salmone in under 30 minutes, using mostly pantry-staple ingredients, some fresh salmon and a lot of love! Imagine perfectly cooked penne pasta tossed in a luscious white cream sauce, with flaked salmon that will make your mouth water.
I'm a huge fan of cream and delicious pasta recipes! If you love my Pink Sauce Pasta recipes, this recipe may be up your alley! Each of my pasta recipes are straightforward, using basic ingredients and make the perfect recipe for a date night or weeknight family dinner.
- Recipe Origin
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Recipe ingredients
- Ingredient notes
- Tools & Equipment Needed
- How to make Penne Al Salmone step by step
- Expert tips for making this pasta perfectly
- How do you store Penne al Salmone?
- Variations and substitutions
- Frequently asked questions
- Other pasta recipes you’ll love
- Penne al Salmone
- Questions & Reviews
Penne al Salmon is a light and flavorful Italian pasta dish. While the exact origins of this pasta recipe are not well-documented and unclear, it is believed to have emerged in Italy, possibly as a regional variation of classic penne pasta dishes.
Why you'll love this recipe
Calling all pasta lovers! If you've ever dreamed of a creamy penne pasta dish, this is the recipe for you. This pasta has the perfect amount of flavor, from the creamy white sauce filled with garlic, wine and shallots and then the perfectly baked salmon. It's easy to make and perfect for a weeknight or weekend meal! Buon appetito!
For other pasta recipes you may love, check out Easy Tuna Pesto Pasta, Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad with Tomatoes & Olives and Gluten Free Spicy Chicken Pasta.
- It’s an easy & quick weeknight dinner pasta recipe you can make in only 30 minutes!
- It is totally gluten-free and dairy free!
- Such a great meal to serve a crowd or your family.
- Only requires a few simple pantry ingredients, plus fresh salmon.
- It is light and has a luscious sauce.
- Looks like a fancy dish but really it's so simple.
- Serve with your favorite white wine (such as vino Bianco) and garlic bread for a romantic dinner date night.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious Penne alla Salmone dish:
Penne Pasta: I like to use gluten free Penne, by the Jovial brand, since it cooks perfectly every time and tastes the most similar to regular wheat pasta. Technically any other pasta shape will work too!
Olive oil: It's generally preferable to use a regular lighter olive oil, but I'm ok with extra virgin olive oil as long as it's fresh!
Butter: The butter helps with thickening the dish, adding richness and a beautiful flavor.
Shallot: Shallots add so much flavor to this dish! I like to chop mine very small so it sort of melts into the sauce. Alternatively, you can use a yellow onion.
Fresh garlic: I love using freshly minced garlic (rather than store bought jarred) since it has a stronger flavor and simply tastes fresher and more like garlic! If you love garlic, feel free to add more than the recipe calls for.
Fresh salmon: Some recipes for Penne al Salmone use smoked salmon, but I prefer to use freshly baked salmon for this recipe.
White wine: Dry white wine lends a delicious and unique flavor to the cream sauce. Some people use vodka in this type of recipe too!
Coconut Milk: I use coconut milk in this recipe so it remains dairy free. Whether you use coconut milk or full-fat oat milk, it will give you a perfectly creamy sauce texture that adds richness to the recipe.
Parmesan: Parmesan is the ideal ingredient that helps emulsify the sauce and add the slightest cheesy element to the dish. I use a dairy free version, but you can use dairy (parmigiano reggiano) or dairy free parmesan!
Fresh lemon: Lemon juice and lemon zest are used in this recipe to add a vibrant zing to the dish and brighten it up.
Fresh basil: A fresh herb is important in nearly every dish, and basil truly lends the perfect flavor here.
Of course, kosher salt and black pepper are added to balance out the flavors of the dish too.
Tools & Equipment Needed
There are very few items needed to make this dish come together! Here are my go-to items used to make this Italian Penne recipe:
Large pasta pot: A large pasta pot is a kitchen essential that will be used over and over again! I love using my Caraway pasta pot that is super versatile and can be used for so many recipes.
A large skillet: A wide dutch oven works wonders! I found this incredible Amazon brand skillet a few months ago that is also perfect to serve your pasta dish in.
A small rimmed sheet pan for the oven: Having a quarter sheet pan (essentially a mini cookie pan) is super helpful for baking small portions of food, such as the salmon in this recipe! USA Pans quarter sheet pan are my go-to option since they last forever.
A cheese grater (if your parmesan isn't pre-shredded) - Ideally you'd shred your parmesan by hand since a parmesan block is way fresher and will have a stronger flavor than pre-grated parmesan.
How to make Penne Al Salmone step by step
Here are some quick visual instructions with a brief explanation. Be sure to read through the full instructions with exact ingredient measurements & steps in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Cook the pasta according to package directions, stirring often to prevent the pasta pieces from sticking to each other. Be sure to reserve ½ cup pasta water for later. Strain the pasta once fully cooked and rinse well with cold water. I like to cook the pasta almost all the way through, just past the al dente. stage.
Step 2: Place the are salmon onto a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F until cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Step 3: In a wide large pan/pot, add the oil and butter. Then, sauté the shallots for about 2-3 minutes.
Step 4: Next, deglaze the pan with the white wine and simmer to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Step 5: Stir in the coconut cream, salt, pepper, grated parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice and the reserved pasta water. At this point you will simmer the sauce until it's thickened quite a bit.
Step 6: Finally add the cooked pasta and chopped basil to the pot of sauce and mix everything together until the pasta is fully coated is the silky sauce.
Step 7: Finally mix in the flaked salmon, being careful not to overmix so the salmon still holds its shape.
Expert tips for making this pasta perfectly
- Salt your pasta water! It’s super important to generously salt the pasta water so that your pasta is flavorful.
- Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water before straining the pasta. You will add it back into the pasta at the end of the recipe!
- Be sure not to overcook the pasta! We want the pasta to remain in-tact, and sometimes it cooks a bit when it’s sitting in the warm sauce.
- You can add more or less garlic depending on how garlicky you like the pasta.
- Customize the pasta sauce to your liking! There are many ingredients you can swap, whether that be using gluten free & dairy free ingredients, or simply swapping the basil for parsley. Be creative with it!
- Easily buy salmon with skin removed so you don't have to worry about it.
- If you like added heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the recipe!
How do you store Penne al Salmone?
- Storage: This pasta stores best in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheating: To reheat the pasta, either microwave a single portion for 1-2 minutes or you can place it in a pot on the stovetop with 1-2 tablespoon water, cover the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium-low (mixing occasionally). If the sauce isn’t as creamy after reheating, stir in a tablespoon or two of coconut milk or cream.
- Freezing: I personally would not recommend freezing this pasta dish since it will likely become mushy when defrosting it.
Variations and substitutions
- You can use any pasta shape you like! I personally love using a Penne pasta to adhere to the classic recipe concept, but truly any will work. I opt for a gluten-free brown rice penne pasta but any type of pasta will work perfectly.
- Add roasted broccoli or zucchini to the pasta! This pasta recipe is essentially veggie-less, but you can add any roasted veggies you like.
- Swap the dry white wine for vodka instead!
- Make this alcohol free by swapping the wine for a low sodium vegetable broth.
- Don’t eat salmon? Feel free to leave out the salmon or substitute with crispy baked tofu or chicken (if you eat meat).
- Coconut milk substitute: This recipe is actually classically made with heavy cream, so you can substitute it in place of the coconut milk here.
Frequently asked questions
Penne Al Salmone is essentially perfectly cooked penne pasta with a wine-parmesan cream sauce and flaked salmon on top. It's meant to come together very quickly and simply using basic ingredients.
Feel free to use any pasta shape you like for this recipe! A rigatoni, brownie or shells would be lovely here.
To make Penne Al Salmone, begin with cooking your pasta (and save some pasta water). Then, simply bake the salmon. Create your luscious cream sauce. Then toss all the components together with basil!
Absolutely! The flavor will be very different and much saltier, so I would recommend starting with half the amount of smoked salmon, cutting it into small pieces and tasting before serving.
Either type of salmon will work! I do find that farm raised salmon tastes a bit better, but choose whichever you gravitate towards.
Other pasta recipes you’ll love
Here are some more easy pasta recipes that I think you’ll love!
Penne al Salmone
- 1 large pasta pot
- 1 large pan with high sides or dutch oven
- 1 chef's knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 cheese grater
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon plant based unsalted butter (or dairy butter) I use vegan butter
- 1 medium shallot peeled and minced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 pound fresh salmon cut into 2-3 pieces
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt plus extra for salting water
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- ⅔ cup canned full fat coconut milk stirred, or heavy cream or half and half
- 1 pound box Penne pasta I use Jovial gluten free pasta
- ½ cup grated parmesan I used dairy free, plus extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest zest of about 1 lemon
- 1 ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the oven rack in the center position of the oven.
- Fill a large pot with water and ½ tablespoon salt. Add pasta to the pot, stir and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Strain the rest of the pasta. Rinse the pasta under cold water and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and grease with cooking spray. Place the salmon onto the pan and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Bake in the center rack of the oven for 12 minutes, until mostly cooked through. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then flake into medium chunks.
- In a large pan with high sides (or dutch oven) add the oil, butter, minced shallot and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the white wine, mix and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Mix in the cream, 2 teaspoons salt, ¾ teaspoon pepper, parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice and the reserved ½ cup pasta water. Stir and bring to a simmer, cooking for 5 minutes, stirring often until thickened.
- Turn off the heat. Add the pasta and basil into the sauce and toss together.
- Mix in the flaked salmon and stir everything together.
- I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt for this recipe.
- This recipe uses fresh salmon, but feel free to swap with smoked salmon. Begin with only adding half the amount of smoked salmon since it can be quite salty.
- Increase the garlic to 6 cloves if you love garlic!
- You can swap the white wine with vodka or low sodium vegetable broth.
- Easily use a yellow onion in place of the shallot. Be sure to chop it very small!
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