This smoked salmon pasta salad has it all when it comes to flavor and texture with the addition of mandarin oranges, celery and capers. It's smoky, citrusy and crunchy! It's a meatier, brighter, and more flavored version of the average pasta salad; and best of all, it takes only 20 minutes to prepare.
This delicious side dish combines the smoky saltiness of the salmon, the tart sweetness of the mandarin oranges, the fresh crunch of the celery, the appealing filling pasta of your choice, and the earthy herbs to enhance the fresh taste.
- dry penne pasta - or other short pasta of your choice
- hot-smoked salmon - (the flaky kind) broken into chunks
- mandarin oranges - peeled and separated
- celery - diced
- fresh lemon juice
- fresh dill - you can substitute with dried dill (but use less)
- chives - to garnish
- salt and pepper
Difference Between Hot-Smoked and Cold-Smoked Salmon
The reason the recipe specifies hot-smoked salmon is because hot-smoked salmon and cold-smoked salmon have different tastes and textures due to their unique processes.
Both of them are cured, rinsed and smoked. However, the cold-smoked version is cured in salt to draw out the moisture and is smoked around 90 degrees Fahrenheit; hot-smoked, on the other hand, is cured using salt water or wet brine and smoked at a higher temperature of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because of these differences, the cold version has a silky texture and fresh taste (which is great on bagels and crackers), while the hot version is flakier and tastes smokier. The hot-smoked version is what we are using in this salad for its flakier texture and smokiness.
How to Make it
The flavors may be layered, but the process is easy. Here are three simple steps to make this smoked salmon salad:
- Cook pasta. Prepare pasta al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- Mix together. Mix all ingredients (except for the chives) with the pasta in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Chill and serve. You can serve the pasta salad right away or chill in the refrigerator for later (1 to 2 hours). When ready to serve, top with chives.
Tweaks & Tips
The salad may be salty with its smoked salmon and capers, but the salad breaks the saltiness down with citrus fruit like lemon juice and mandarin oranges. If you want a fruit that is similar to mandarin oranges but with a sweeter taste, I recommend clementines. They are honey-sweet, a tad sour, seedless (less hassle for you), and are related to mandarins.
This pasta salad recipe uses mayo to help bind the ingredients together. If you wish to use an alternative ingredient similar to mayo to bind them, Greek yogurt or sour cream have a similar creamy and tangy taste.
You can swap out the penne for whatever short-pasta you have on hand such as Fusilli, elbow, rotini or bowtie.
Instead of a side dish, you may want to serve this as a smoked salmon pasta lunch or dinner. To do this, simply serve it right away without chilling the ingredients.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 to 7 days.
Do you like your smoked salmon pasta salad served warm or cold? If you liked this recipe, please comment and share!
Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad Recipe
- 2 cups dry penne pasta - or other short pasta of your choice
- 2 cups hot-smoked salmon - (the flaky kind) broken into chunks
- ½ cup mandarin oranges - peeled and separated
- ½ cup celery - diced
- ¼ cup capers
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice - or to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh dill - chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried dill)
- ¼ cup chives - finely chopped (to garnish)
- salt and pepper - to taste
- Prepare pasta al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- Mix all ingredients (except for the chives) with the pasta in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- You can serve the pasta salad right away or chill in the refrigerator for later (1 to 2 hours). When ready to serve, top with chives.
- Some more pasta choices include Fusilli, elbow, rotini or bowtie.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 to 7 days.
Nutrition information on In the Kitch is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It may not include toppings and/or sauces.
Check out How to Make Ceviche: A Step by Step Guide for more seafood inspo!