Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas

Few foods pair as well as a creamy whole dairy milk-based sauce and delicate noodles. When you combine flaky salmon with brilliant green peas, you have a feast to remember.

This recipe is ideal for those long days when the prospect of cooking dinner appears intolerable. This is our new favorite weekday supper because it can be prepared ahead of time and cooked simultaneously.

Start With Béchamel

The creamy sauce known as béchamel is one of the five classic French “Mother Sauces,” which means it may be used to make a variety of sauces. Béchamel is one of the easiest to make because it does not require a pre-made stock.

The conventional method of preparing the sauce takes a little more time and effort, but with this version, we’ve simplified and streamlined the procedure!

Real Milk Is Key!


Real whole milk is a must in this recipe. Not only does it give the béchamel its amazing flavor, but its proteins also provide the structure needed to create a silky-smooth sauce by combining with the thickening agent we’re going to use: a cooked paste of flour and butter, called a roux.

The Best Pasta for the Job

We prefer to use a tubular pasta because it’s a great way to get the most out of this flavorful real milk sauce. You want a pasta where the sauce can really gather and fill the grooves and divots — a chunky, shaped pasta is the way to go.

How to Store and Reheat the Pasta

You can make this sauce in advance and store it in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat it, just warm it in a saucepan over low heat until it’s hot.

If you need to thin out the sauce a bit, just add more whole milk (start with 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency)!

Leftovers? Store them covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat by adding leftovers to a medium pan with a splash of real milk, and warming over low heat, stirring constantly until warmed through.

Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas

PREP TIME10 mins
COOK TIME30 mins
SERVINGS6 servings

Streamline this recipe: While the water for the pasta is coming to a boil, warm the milk for the bechamel and get the salmon prepped. The pasta and the salmon can also cook at the same time while you work on making the bechamel. Multi-tasking!


  • 3 cups whole dairy milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon), divided
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (4-ounce) fillets fresh salmon
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta, or other shaped pasta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces (2 cupsgreen peas, fresh or frozen
  • 2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional


  1. Preheat the broiler:

    Place your oven rack about 6 inches from the heating element of your oven. Set your oven’s broiler to high.

  2. Cook the pasta:

    Set a 6-quart pot of water over medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil.

    Add the rigatoni to the water and cook according to the package instructions (usually 8 to 9 minutes) until tender. Be sure to stir the pasta occasionally to prevent clumping.

    Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need it to thin the sauce later. Drain the pasta and set aside.

  3. Warm milk mixture:

    While you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil, warm the milk: Set a small saucepan over low heat and add the milk, bay leaf, and ground cloves. Stir occasionally; do not let the milk boil.

  4. Prepare the béchamel:

    In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and garlic and cook until they appear glossy, about 3 minutes.

    Whisk in the flour. This is your roux. Cook the roux for at least 1 minute to eliminate any starchy taste.

    Remove the bay leaf from the simmering pot of milk and slowly ladle or pour the warmed milk into the pot with the roux, whisking constantly to prevent clumping.

    Once all of the milk has been stirred in, allow the sauce to gently simmer, over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened to the consistency of corn syrup.

    Once the béchamel has thickened, add half of the lemon zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, nutmeg, and peas. Reduce the heat to low to keep the sauce warm, stirring occasionally.

  5. Prepare the salmon:

    In a small bowl, combine the remaining lemon zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Set aside.

    Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour the olive oil onto the lined baking sheet and use your fingers to spread it evenly over the foil. Add the salmon fillets to the pan, turning them to coat them completely with oil. Leave them skin side down.

    Rub equal amounts of the lemon-spice mixture onto each salmon filet.

  6. Broil the salmon:

    Broil for 5 to 6 minutes or until the flesh is an opaque pink.

  7. Flake the salmon:

    Once your salmon has finished broiling, remove it from the oven and carefully flake the flesh into walnut-sized pieces. Discard the skin.

    The salmon will break down into smaller pieces when you fold it into the pasta at a later step. Set the salmon aside.

  8. Combine salmon, pasta, and béchamel:

    Fold the pasta into the pot with the béchamel sauce and the peas. Make sure it’s coated completely.

    Gently fold in the salmon. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the pasta seems too thick or clumpy, stir in a few splashes of the reserved pasta cooking water until the pasta is creamy.

  9. Serve with Milk!

    Garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley and serve while hot.


What is creamy pasta with Salmon and Peas?

Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas is a flavorful pasta dish featuring tender flakes of salmon, sweet peas, and a creamy sauce tossed with your favorite pasta. It’s a delightful combination of protein-rich salmon, vibrant green peas, and a rich, creamy sauce that coats the pasta beautifully.

How do I make Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas?

To make Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas, start by cooking your preferred pasta according to package instructions until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the creamy sauce by sautéing minced garlic in butter or olive oil until fragrant. Then, add heavy cream or half-and-half to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened. Add grated Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and incorporated into the sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and any desired herbs or spices. In a separate pan, cook salmon fillets until flaky and tender. Break the salmon into chunks and add it to the creamy sauce along with cooked peas. Finally, toss the cooked pasta with the creamy salmon and pea sauce until well coated. Serve hot, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs if desired.

What ingredients are needed to make Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas?

The main ingredients for Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas include pasta (such as penne, fettuccine, or spaghetti), fresh salmon fillets, frozen peas, heavy cream or half-and-half, butter or olive oil, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and optionally, herbs like dill or parsley for garnish. You can also add additional ingredients like shallots, white wine, lemon zest, or cherry tomatoes for extra flavor.

Can I use canned salmon instead of fresh salmon?

Yes, you can use canned salmon as a convenient and budget-friendly alternative to fresh salmon in this recipe. Simply drain the canned salmon and flake it with a fork before adding it to the creamy sauce. Keep in mind that canned salmon may have a slightly different texture and flavor compared to fresh salmon, but it will still add delicious seafood flavor to the dish.

Is Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas suitable for meal prep?

Yes, Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Peas can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for easy meal prep. Cook the pasta and prepare the creamy sauce according to the recipe instructions, but cook the salmon and peas separately and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, reheat the creamy sauce gently on the stove and add the cooked salmon and peas, then toss with freshly cooked pasta until heated through. Adjust the consistency with a splash of cream or pasta water if needed. It’s a convenient option for busy weeknights or packed lunches.



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