This salmon pesto pasta is comfort in a bowl. It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal using canned salmon and pasta tossed in a hearty, homemade veggie-rich pesto sauce.
This post is sponsored by Bumble Bee Seafoods.
This salmon kale pesto pasta is a quick and easy weeknight meal using canned salmon and pasta tossed in a hearty, homemade pesto sauce. This pantry meal comes together in just 15 minutes or the time it takes to boil a pot of pasta.
What You’ll Need
Bumble Bee® Wild Caught Pink Salmon, Skinless and Boneless Pouch
Bowtie or penne pasta
Baby kale or other greens
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
Most of these ingredients are part of the pesto.
You might be tempted to buy the jarred stuff. But just know you are at the mercy of that jar. I personally haven’t found a jarred pesto that I love. Most are too salty. So, I recommend making your own.
But you know I love a shortcut. If you know of a great jarred pesto, I’d love to hear about it!
This salmon pesto pasta is comfort in a bowl. If you’re looking for something a little more suited for the cooler months, make my Salmon Orzo Salad. I keep pouches of boneless, skinless salmon or canned salmon in my pantry. It’s a staple and comes in handy for quick and satisfying meals.
Tips for success
This is a simple recipe but taking a few important steps helps build flavor.
Make your own pesto. Instead of the traditional basil based pesto, I’m using kale. But you can use any variety of greens for the base. You may be tempted to just buy premade pesto. I get it. But make it from scratch for the best flavor.
Toast the walnuts. Toasting adds an additional layer of flavor. And if you add them to the food processor while still a little warm, it helps with blending.
Remember to reserve the pasta water. The pasta water will help thin the pesto sauce as well as give it extra body.
This recipe is the third in my partnership with Bumble Bee Seafoods. I enjoy working with them because they make it easy to get quality tuna and salmon on the table affordably.
Bumble Bee® has been on a mission to show the world that there’s a Better Way to Seafood. The company recently announced new sustainability commitments, including allocating $40 million over five years to causes that help protect our oceans like minimizing plastic waste, providing alternative seafood options, and encouraging sustainable fishing practices.
And I know that many of you come here for plant-forward options. So, you might be happy to learn that earlier this year, Bumble Bee became the first and only major seafood company to begin offering ocean-inspired, plant-based protein options in a venture with Good Catch Foods. This effort to provide alternative and sustainable ways to enjoy ocean-inspired food is a key pillar of Bumble Bee’s commitment to ocean health.
Now, let’s finish this recipe.
Once the pesto is done, you’ll simply add the cooked hot pasta and salmon. Toss to combine. And serve!
This recipe stands on its own. Remember that with the kale pesto, you’re getting vegetables in every bite. But you can add a green salad side to double down on vegetables if you’d like.
Choose quality ingredients
The flavors in this recipe are influenced by the ingredient quality. Significantly. So, choose the best ones you can afford.
Salmon. I’m using Bumble Bee Wild Caught Pink Salmon. It’s boneless and skinless and a convenient way to add a quick protein to pasta dishes. You can find it canned or in easy to open pouches.
Olive oil. Go with a fresh and flavorful extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. Considering the amount of olive oil in the recipe, it will make a big difference in the final flavor. This is where you’d want to use the good one – no one that’s been in the pantry for months. Tip: Oils go bad over time. Store your extra virgin olive oil in a cool, dark place for optimal freshness but never next to or above the stove.
Parmesan cheese. Choose a good quality parmesan cheese as a not so great one can overpower the dish. Some cheeses are salty or lack depth of flavor. So taste the cheese. Be sure you love how it tastes on its own.
Tip: Taste the pesto as you go. The parmesan cheese adds a salty, umami flavor to the sauce. You may not need any additional salt. I did not.
This kale walnut pesto is a bit of a departure from the norm. It uses hardy, cool weather ingredients to match the season.
- Baby kale works very well in this recipe, blending easily into the sauce. Lacinato or dinosaur kale will also work well but you’ll need to chop it up a bit before putting it into the food processor. You can also use spinach in the same quantity.
- Walnuts complement the kale nicely in the pesto. But you can also use almonds or pine nuts. Pumpkin seeds are a perfect substitute if there’s a nut allergy in the house.
- If you don’t have any fresh lemon, it’s ok to leave it out. However, the acid helps brighten the flavor of the pesto a bit. So you might add a splash of red wine vinegar as a substitute.
- I choose bowtie pasta for fun. You can absolutely use penne or your favorite pasta. Chickpea or another gluten-free pasta works great in this recipe. Just be sure to follow the package directions. Rinse or don’t rinse according to the instructions. This can affect the final texture of the dish.
- To make this recipe dairy-free, you can also swap in nutritional yeast for the parmesan.
There you have it. This dish is done in just about 15 minutes and probably using ingredients you already have in the kitchen!
And on the subject of pesto, I have plenty!
Be sure to try my Homemade Arugula Pesto for a slightly different spin!
Salmon Kale Pesto Pasta
- ½ pound bowtie or penne pasta
- 4 cups baby kale
- ⅓ cup 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ medium lemon, juiced
- ⅓ – ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Bumble Bee® Wild Salmon pouches, drained and flaked
- black pepper to taste
- Fresh basil or extra parmesan for, garnish
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water and drain.
- While the pasta cooks, pulse the kale, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and parmesan in a food processor until well chopped. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- With the food processor running on low, stream in the olive oil until well blended and smooth.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pesto and up to ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Whisk until the pesto is thinned a bit and smooth. Add the drained pasta and salmon. Toss until well combined and add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
- Top with fresh basil, parmesan or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm.