This simple but filling and flavour packed Salmon Pasta Salad is ready in just 20 minutes. Delicious as either a main or a BBQ or picnic side, it's easy to adapt, has lots of crunch and a zesty dressing that makes it perfect for summer. It's also a great lunch to pack up for work or in a school lunch box.
Pasta salads are a must during the summer. You can throw all your favourite salad ingredients in to a bowl with some freshly cooked pasta and flaked grilled salmon and bring it all together with a sweet and zesty dressing. This is a great dish to feed a crowd, which is why we always make a big batch for a BBQ.
We make it a different way every time, because it's the perfect dish for raiding your fridge for and using up all those salad ingredients that are getting past their best. We try to make sure there is always some greens (spinach, asparagus and romaine this time), a good amount of tomatoes (including sun dried tomatoes) and lots of herbs.
Why you will love it
- Low in calories - There are just 211 calories per portion and it is filling and protein packed too.
- An easy way to get kids to eat more fish - If your kids aren't a fan or fish unless it's finger shaped, then try a salmon pasta salad. You can adapt the ingredients to what you know they will enjoy.
- Great for batch cooking - This stores really well, so make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for easy meals.
- A delicious meal prep recipe for easy work lunches - Bored of sandwiches for lunch? Take this to work instead!
- Perfect for BBQs - Serve something a little different as a side dish at a BBQ. This will go down well!
- Salmon - We love Scottish salmon, however you can use any boneless salmon fillets. We have spoken below about using canned and smoked salmon too.
- Pasta - This is the bulk of the dish. You can use any pasta you like, or even a mixture of a few if you have lots of little bits in your cupboard.
- Asparagus - We love asparagus for a Spring or Summer dish. To get the perfect asparagus, look for spears that are firm and a nice bright green colour. The tips should be dry and held tightly to the stalk. Thinner asparagus spears are younger and therefore more tender.
- Oil - Try to use the best quality olive oil you can get, as you really will be able to taste the difference.
- Balsamic vinegar - The same as above, choose the best quality. Cheap balsamic vinegar is really thin and doesn't have much flavour.
- Mustard - We used Dijon for a kick of flavour in the dressing. You could swap it for wholegrain mustard if you prefer.
- Spinach - An easy way to give a green vegetable boost to the pasta salad.
- Romaine - Whilst you wouldn't usually find lettuce in a pasta salad, we find that it adds some nice texture with the crunch.
- Tomatoes - An easy way to add a pop of colour. We used diced a larger tomato, but you could use halved cherry tomatoes if you prefer.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - These add a real burst of tomato flavour.
- Lemon - We use a Microplane grater to zest lemons.
How to make salmon pasta salad - Step by step
One: Place the salmon under the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Two: Boil the pasta for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Alternatively, follow the instructions for our Microwave Pasta.
Three: Prepare the vegetables.
Four: Three minutes before the pasta is ready, add the asparagus to the pan.
Five: Once the pasta is cooked, put in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Six: Mix well and serve.
Health benefits of salmon
- It is one of the best sources of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Children who regularly consume foods rich in Omega-3 have been shown in studies to have increased concentration levels and improved learning abilities.
- Salmon is an excellent source of high quality protein - a 100g (3.5oz) portion contains 25g of protein.
- Contains high amounts of B vitamins. These are good for repairing DNA and reducing the causes that can lead to heart disease. B vitamins also help maintain optimal brain and nervous system functioning.
- Scientists are investigating the role fish consumption may have in protecting people from some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, asthma, diabetes, macular degeneration, high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis.
- Contains antioxidants.
Canned salmon or fresh salmon?
When grilled some fresh salmon fillets as they get nice and crispy which adds some extra texture to the dish. However, you could easily use a can of salmon in this, or even tuna, mackerel or pilchards. No need to buy extra ingredients if you already have something else that can be used. We have also made this with leftover smoked salmon which was really good.
This is a great fridge raid meal, so feel free to adapt it to use whatever you have in your fridge. We used spinach and romaine to give it a green boost and then it had some asparagus and tomatoes in it.
You could also add some grilled veggies like courgette, peppers, mushrooms and onions or keep it more fresh salad like with some chopped cucumber and raw peppers.
If you wanted to add some cheese to it, then some crumbled feta or shaved parmesan goes really well. But it isn't missing cheese, so don't feel like you have to add it.
We went the salad dressing route with this, but if you wanted a more traditional (like a store bought) pasta salad, then a creamy dressing.
What to serve with Salmon Pasta Salad
We think this is the perfect side dish at a BBQ, so you can serve it with all the usual burgers, sausages and grilled meats. Here are some of our favourite BBQ recipes to try:
- Grilled Corn with Herb Butter
- Greek Chicken Skewers
- Honey and Lime Chicken
- Peri Peri Chicken
- Vegetable and Halloumi Kebabs
- Hidden Vegetable Beef Burgers
- Cajun Chicken Burgers
Store: You can keep leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge and it will keep for up to 2 days. You will need to add a little more lemon juice to it and mix it up to freshen it up a bit.
Freeze: We wouldn't recommend freezing a pasta salad.
I am guessing you haven't found your way to this recipe if you don't like salmon. But, if you fancy a change, then the fish can be swapped for chicken. Either grill a chicken breast and cut in the chunks, or you can mix in some leftover shredded chicken.
If you are making this for a BBQ or picnic, or even to take to work for lunch, then this can definitely be made in advance. It is best eaten after a few hours being kept in the fridge, but it would keep for 2 days.
If you use gluten free pasta and make sure that there is no cross contamination, then this can be gluten free.
We have used a spiral pasta because the dressing clings to it really well and it's easy for toddlers to pick up as well, so we always have some in the cupboard. You could use any pasta that you have though, and we often use Fusilli, penne or conchiglie instead.
Feel free to adapt this recipe to use what you already have, rather than buying new ingredients. It works with orzo too if you want something smaller.
More pasta recipe
Salmon Pasta Salad
- 240 g (8.5 oz) Salmon fillet
- 150 g (5 oz) Whole wheat pasta
- 100 g (3.5 oz) Asparagus spears - chopped
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) Olive oil
- 2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
- 50 g (1.66 cups) Spinach - chopped
- 40 g (1.5 oz) Romain lettuce - chopped
- 2 (2) Tomatoes - diced
- 50 g (0.5 cups) Sun-dried tomatoes - chopped
- 2 tablespoon (2 tablespoon) Fresh basil - chopped
- 1 Lemon - juice and zest only
- Place 240 g Salmon fillet under the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Boil 150 g Whole wheat pasta for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
- Three minutes before the pasta is ready, add 100 g Asparagus spears to the pan.
- Once the pasta is cooked, put in a bowl with 1 tablespoon Olive oil, 2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, .50 g Spinach, 40 g Romain lettuce, 2 Tomatoes, 50 g Sun-dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoon Fresh basil and juice of 1 Lemon.
- Mix well and serve.
- Although we used fresh grilled salmon, you could use canned salmon instead. Or even tuna, mackerel or pilchards.
- Not a fan of salmon? You could grill some chicken and chop it up or use some leftover shredded chicken.
- If you want a more traditional pasta salad dressing, swap our salad dressing for mayo, yogurt or creme fraiche to make it creamy.
- This is a great fridge raid meal, so feel free to adapt the ingredients to use whatever you have in your fridge when it comes to vegetables.
- You can make this in advance and it will keep in the fridge for about 2 days.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.