Go Back
+ servings
pasta served in dish
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Penne With Cream and Smoked Salmon

Penne with cream and smoked salmon is a delight for the eyes and the taste buds. It’s ready by the time the pasta is cooked and will please any pasta lover. The simplicity and minimalistic use of ingredients showcase how cooking can be deceptively simple yet result in a highly sophisticated dish.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gravlax, lox, penne with cream and smoked salmon, smoked salmon
Servings: 2 main dishes (or 4 appetizers)
Calories: 796kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ¼” to ½” strips
  • 8 ounces penne
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup pasta water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Fill up a pot with water, place it on the burner, and turn it on. Put a lid on to speed up the boiling process.
  • Unpack the smoked salmon and - using kitchen scissors - cut into thin strips, ¼” to ½”.
  • Remove the thyme leaves from the stem but also keep a couple of stems with the leaves on for garnish. 
  • Once the pasta water starts to boil, add a generous amount of kosher salt (about 1-½ tablespoons) and 8 ounces of penne. Cook according to the instructions on the package (or slightly less to keep it nice and al dente).
  • When the pasta has a couple of minutes left to go, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  • Stir in ½ cup heavy cream, about half of the salmon, and half of the thyme leaves. Don’t let it boil, just simmer for a minute. 
  • Add ½ cup of pasta water, ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and gently cook for about four minutes. Stir a few times.
  • Taste and add more salt if necessary but don’t forget: by adding the rest of the uncooked smoked salmon before serving, that will add a little more saltiness anyway.
  • Drain the pasta and toss into the saucepan with the sauce. Give it a gentle stir until the penne is evenly covered. 
  • Divide among two plates (for a main course) or four plates (for an appetizer) and top with the remaining salmon and thyme leaves.
  • Serve immediately. I like to have it with a couple slices of french baguette and maybe a nice glass of unoaked chardonnay.

Notes

  • Serving: Divide among two plates (for a main course) or four plates (for an appetizer) and top with the remaining salmon and thyme leaves. Serve immediately. I like to have it with a couple slices of french baguette and maybe a nice glass of unoaked chardonnay.
 
  • Substitutions
    • Smoked Salmon - Some stores sell a very similar product called Gravlax, which works very nicely too.  If you prefer to skip seafood altogether, though, prosciutto works just perfectly. Use the prosciutto exactly as the salmon in this recipe. 
    • Penne - Any short pasta shape works fine, use your favorite. 
    • Thyme - You could also use marjoram, oregano, or tarragon. Heck, if you have some fresh basil, chiffonade a couple of leaves and add them when serving.
    • When it comes to the butter and heavy cream part, sorry, no substitutions here. When using only a few ingredients like in this dish, these two dairies are the “glue” that brings the three main ingredients together. 
    Remember: When it comes to cooking, the only thing better than butter is more butter.
 
  • Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh herbs? For a dish with just a few ingredients and the herb is one of the three mains, I highly recommend using fresh herbs. Yes, you can use dried herbs. Sometimes I feel that dried herbs concentrate their specific aromas to a point where it can be a little too strong. On the other side, dried herbs lose their quality quickly and can turn into a hay-tasting herb experience. So make sure to taste any dry herb before using, especially the ones in the back of your pantry with an expiration date of…  A General Rule: If a recipe calls for 3 teaspoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs and vice versa. 
 
  • When is the pasta done? If you’re adding the pasta to a warm saucepan to mix everything before serving (which I highly recommend), drain the pasta 1 minute earlier than the instructions tell you.
 
 
 
Small Recipe Logo

Nutrition

Calories: 796kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 38g | Sodium: 1157mg | Potassium: 421mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1327IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 82mg