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Recipe for salmon, asparagus and lemon pasta

Salmon, asparagus and lemon pasta

When I pack for a vacation, I don't think in terms of outfits. I pack a suitcase full of clothes to mix and match, and when I get dressed each morning, I reach into the suitcase, grab a couple of things, and know that I'll come out with a combination that works. My pantry resembles that suitcase, filled with all kinds of ingredients that might go together; often a recipe starts with one ingredient and then, as I go along, I grab other things from the spice rack or cupboard, and hope for the best. That's how this pasta dish evolved. First came the farfalle, then the salmon from the freezer. The lemon was a given, asparagus (it could have been zucchini) a lucky find at the market, and the panko an inspiration that gave added body to the pasta. Mix and match.

Salmon, asparagus and lemon pasta

Salmon, asparagus and lemon pasta

From the pantry, you'll need: pasta, panko, wine, parsley, black olives, red pepper flakes, olive oil, lemon, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper.

Serves 6.


12 oz pasta (farfalle, penne, rotini or other stubby pasta shape)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
1 lb very thin asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 lb skinless salmon filet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup black olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh dill weed
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


Bring six quarts of water to boil in a stock pot. Add the pasta, and cook for one minute less than the package recommends. Drain (reserve 2 cups of the cooking water), and set aside. Do not rinse the pasta.

In a large (12-inch) nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, for 2-3 minutes; the asparagus should be just barely beyond raw. Stir in the salmon pieces and red pepper flakes, and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. When the salmon no longer looks raw, mix in the lemon zest and juice, black olives, panko, wine and parsley or dill, and let everything cook together for 1 minute. Toss occasionally; the salmon pieces will break up a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the pasta to the pan, along with 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed. If you are opting for the cheese (and, though true Italian cooks frown on it, I love the combination of fish and cheese so I encourage you to try it), add the cheese now, and stir until the cheese melts.

Top with plenty of black pepper, and serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives
Broccoli, basil and pasta salad
Shrimp, lemon, herb and feta macaroni and cheese
Pasta with clams and vegetable sauce
Pasta salad with feta, basil, olives, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Pan-seared salmon with pasta and spinach cream sauce, from The Paupered Chef
Smoked salmon pasta salad, from Simply Recipes
Salmon pasta with tomato chickpea sauce, from Christine's Recipes
Baked lemon pasta, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Pasta with lemon-mint butter and peas, from eCurry

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I enjoy your site and found it interesting to compare what is in my pantry to yours. The biggest difference I found was an almost total lack of protein, especially meat and game in your pantry. My assumption is that you buy these items as required. I buy proteins in bulk, break them down and vacuum pack them. Others I buy from mail order, such as my favorite Dartagan only a few times a year to minimize freight.

Items I could not live without that I did not see on your list:
Various seasoned salts
Peppercorns: green, white, pink and sichuan (actually not a pepper)
Porcini powder
Duck fat
Truffle Butter
Miso Paste
Huge selection of olives and pickels
Tonkatsu Sauce
Bonito Flakes
Israili Couscous

All the best,


I love pasta with any type of seafood so this one appeals to my tastebuds - a lot! Asparagus too. We'll have to wait for the warmer weather, here in Turkey and then we can buy some asparagus and make this dish. Roll on summer.

This recipe is just calling my name Lydia. I saw the most beautiful asparagus in the market yesterday, sadly not local yet, but it was hard to resist nonetheless.

This is my kind of pasta!

This sounds so good, Lydia!

I've gotten much better at mixing and matching in recent years. From the looks of this pasta dish, I would say you're an expert!

Great recipe!

That looks soo good! I love salmon, and pasta! Yum!

This is my second favorite combination. The first is shrimp, broccoli,lemon and garlic. The baked lemon pasta from the Pioneer Woman Cooks sounds good enough "to die for". Definitely on my "have to try" list.

John, thanks so much for sharing some treasures from your pantry. (This would be great to share on our Facebook page, too.) Some of the things on your list are actually in my pantry; others, like meat, are not something I consider a pantry item. And a few (escargot! duck fat!) are occasional indulgences, for me. Just goes to prove that everyone's pantry is perfect for them!

Julia, Bellini: asparagus was an out-of-season splurge for me, too, but it looked so good that I just had to buy it.

Pam, Bridge, Angela, Jenn: I can't resist salmon and pasta, either. I actually buy frozen salmon at Trader Joe's for the times when I can't get to the local fish market.

TW, mixing and matching in the kitchen is definitely all about confidence. It also helps that I have a husband who willingly submits to my culinary experimentation.

Pauline, I do love shrimp and it would work beautifully in this recipe, too. (And if you make the baked lemon pasta, I'll come over to help you eat it!)

Hmm the combination is just amazing. I love pasta and if you add fish and asparagus then I'm game.

Oh yum! I love the sound of this recipe and, despite my lack of love for black olives, I bet it would be just fabulous bite after bite.

Ben, you could make lots of substitutions here, too, depending on what's available locally. Fish, lemon and pasta -- those are the key elements.

Mama Kelly, you can certainly omit the olives and the dish will be quite delicious.

Sounds like a successful "cabinet stew" to me!! I would of course use shrimp since I usually have a bag in my freezer and I don't eat fish (I know, I know)

this is how a good cook, cooks! you just kinda know what works well together! It all works... vacationing anytime soon!? :) Nice to see your blog again! :)

We tried this last night and really liked it. I didn't have any black olives on hand, so I left them out. Next time I think I might try adding capers and/or artichoke hearts. It's definitely going in the rotation, though!

Mlle, artichoke hearts would be fabulous. Capers, too, but I'd rinse them off first to cut down on the brine. Thanks for taking time to come back and leave a comment. I'm so grateful when readers do this.

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