Try This Superfood Pasta Dish With Salmon and Capers in a Tarragon Cream Sauce

Published on 10/25/2013 by

Penne pasta with smoked salmon and capers in a tarragon cream sauce is an elegant and indulgent pasta dish that is delicious, nutritious and very easy to make.

As one of the top ten superfoods, salmon is an excellent source of high quality protein, vitamins, minerals, good fats and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.


"easy-to-eat foods that are packed with multiple nutrients to help you stay healthy. These multitasking "superfoods" provide multiple disease-fighting nutrients, fill you up so you can enjoy plenty of food without excess calories, and are easy to include in everyday meals. "- WebMD

This recipe uses smoked salmon but you can also make it with poached salmon or baked salmon. If using the latter, be sure and under cook the salmon slightly (it should be slightly pink in the middle). It will continue to cook in the sauce so you want it to be slightly under done before adding it in order for it to remain moist and flavorful once the dish is complete.

Recipe: Penne Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Capers in a Tarragon Cream Sauce

Serves 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch and 8 as a starter.


· 1 lb. penne pasta (or similar bite-size shape)

· 1 (4 oz.) package of smoked salmon, sliced into bite size pieces

or 2 medium filets of cooked salmon, gently divided into bite size pieces

· 1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed

· 2 tablespoons butter

· 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest

· 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

· 1 (7 oz.) container of crème fraiche

· 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon, with a few sprigs for garnish

· 1/4 cup capers (optional)

· salt and fresh-ground black pepper


  • Put a large pot of water on to boil (4 quarts or liters per pound of pasta). Add a lid to bring it to a boil faster.
  • Slice the smoked salmon into even, bite size pieces and set aside
  • If using fresh (or fresh frozen) salmon, poach or bake the salmon filets until just barely done (7-10 minutes depending on thickness). Allow to cool slightly and carefully flake into bite size pieces, discarding the skin.
  • When the pasta water is at a rolling boil, add a heaping tablespoon of salt and drop in the pasta. Give it a good stir to prevent sticking. Cook according to package instructions until al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, put 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and turn the heat to medium low. Add the garlic and sauté gently for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Do not let the garlic brown or it will be bitter.
  • Add the crème fraiche, minced tarragon, lemon juice and lemon zest to the saucepan and stir to blend. Stir in half of the salmon and heat through. Season carefully with salt and pepper (smoked salmon is quite salty so taste the sauce before adding your salt)
  • Turn the heat to low and keep the sauce warm.
  • When the pasta is al dente (still firm to the bite), carefully reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot, off the heat.
  • Using a rubber spatula to get every delicious morsel, scrape the cream sauce into the hot pasta and stir gently to coat. Add the capers and the remainder of the salmon.
  • Add a splash of the starchy pasta water if needed to smooth out the sauce to a satiny smooth consistency. Stir gently to blend the flavors and heat through.
  • Plate into individual bowls and garnish with additional capers and sprigs of fresh tarragon. Serve immediately.

Add a crisp, green salad with fresh seasonal veggies, a hearty, whole grain artisan bread and a dry white or rosé wine for a delicious and delightful dinner in no time at all.



Christine Coughlan is the author, designer and publisher of, your one-stop resource for pasta recipes, ideas, how-to and more! You'll find simple step-by-step recipes with beautiful images, helpful how-to videos, drool-worthy culinary tours, articles, timely seasonal inspiration and much more. Quick and easy one-dish dinner ideas, classic pasta and sauce combinations, rich and satisfying lasagnas, even an in depth video series on how to make fresh pasta by hand that will keep you coming back for more. To keep things flowing smoothly in your kitchen, look for her handy tips and timing techniques. From gathering your ingredients to garnishing your plate, you'll look like a seasoned pro. To check out more great pasta recipes, visit today!

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