Lately I’ve been doing some personal challenges at home to see how much faster I can make an already fast recipe. The creamy lemon smoked salmon pasta is definitely this week’s family meal winner. Not just because it’s tasty and virtually instant, but also because the preparation of a hot dish in its own serving bowl cuts out a whole stage of post-dinnertime mess.
The use of ingredients like smoked salmon, yoghurt (see recipe notes), dill, spring onions, means there’s no need for actual cooking. It tastes like a typical warm and creamy salmon pasta sauce, but the method to make it is more like a pasta salad.
This means there’s no need to pull out an extra pan to cook the sauce and that the one pot you do use is only exposed to salt, water and some pasta starch.
So not only do you reduce number of things that need washing up, you also reduce the amount of effort to clean the only cooking pot.
That means it ticks off a lot of my ‘rules’ for what a genuinely fast weeknights dinner should be, because nothing spoils your mealtime mindset faster than the dread of a big clean up later on.
And bonus: my ‘I hate fish’ kid gave it a crack and finished his bowl. Winner-winner, salmon dinner!
Bear in mind that none of the ingredients listed here requires cooking – effectively you’re making a warm pasta salad.
The secret to this dish…
Is this: while the pasta cooks, you place the sauce ingredients in a big serving bowl near the stove – see pic below. You don’t even have to mix them up.
You then dump the drained pasta directly into the bowl and stir it all together in the very dish you’ll then take to the table. As the mongoose says: Simples!
Kids in the Kitchen tips
- This recipe is virtually child’s play! If you can get a willing helper, have them set out the ingredients in the serving bowl as shown.
- Watch the smoked salmon change colour and texture as the pasta ‘cooks’ it. Why is that happening? Does it taste different too? Keep a snippet of the original smoked salmon aside to compare the two.
- Why do so many people love pasta? Do you know anyone who doesn’t like pasta? Have a talk about it. Discussing why other people like – and dislike – food can be a great way to explore a fussy kid’s feelings without being pushy.
Instant cook: Tangy Smoked Salmon Pasta
- Pasta pot
- Serving bowl
- cutting board
- 500 g dry pasta
- 600 g smoked salmon torn to bite size
- 1-2 cups Greek yoghurt OR creme fraiche, mascarpone etc see Notes
- 2 tbsp fresh or dried dill leaves chopped
- 2 stalks spring onions chopped
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp capers optional
- 100 g parmesan or romano cheese grated
- salt and pepper
- Start boiling the pasta in plenty of salted water.
- Add all other ingredients – except parmesan – to a large serving bowl and keep handy.
- Drain the pasta and immediately add half to the serving bowl and mix well. Add the remaining pasta once the first batch is mixed and stir thoroughly. Adding in halves helps control the volume as you mix – if your serving bowl is deep enough, you can add the lot at once.
- Stir through the parmesan. Doing this at the end helps to bind the full mix as a cream sauce. If you put it in early it may form clumps when the hot pasta hits it.
- Serve immediately, with extra cheese if you like.
- I like the tanginess of Greek yoghurt with the salmon but you’ll get a still tangy but even creamier result by using a tub of creme fraiche or mascarpone, which are both available in most Australian supermarkets these days.
- You could also tone it right down and use ricotta cheese, thickened cream or one of those cream for cooking products as the actual ‘cook’ is so short there even if you still add lemon there’s no chance for the lemon and cream to curdle.
- Instantly make this a two-level family meal by holding back the capers, dill and lemon juice and serving initially with the yoghurt/cream, salmon and cheese, then mix in the more challenging ingredients for the bolder eaters (you know who you are!)
- Add or substitute ingredients as you wish. Bear in mind that none of the ingredients listed here requires cooking – effectively you’re making a warm pasta salad. If you switch smoked salmon for tinned salmon or hot smoked fillets, you’re fine. If you switch it for fresh salmon fillets you will need to cook them separately then add to the serving bowl to get the same effect.
- Check out other one-pot pasta meals like this one with sausages, or this one with ricotta and peas.