The sauce for this pecan-garlic-salmon pasta is a savory, country-style blend of salmon, pecans, coconut milk and white wine. It’s a garlicky, non-tomato-based topping for pasta that gives you an easy second meal whenever you have leftovers from a large fillet like the one I used for my Crusted Pecan-Mustard Salmon.
I have long been trying to recreate this dish based on one I enjoyed in Honolulu, at an Italian restaurant called Sabrina’s. Sabrina's was nestled in a little shopping area not far from our house - and there was a real Sabrina who would come to the table and ask us how our meal was! They’ve closed now, perhaps to retire, but the restaurant held its own on that corner for years, despite a lack of parking and seemingly few guests on some nights.
Dining at Sabrina's was that lovely European experience in which you choose antipasti, primi and secondi and then plan to sit and visit with your fellow diners for hours as your courses arrive.
I never asked Sabrina how she made this dish because the last time we went there a year or so ago, it was no longer on the menu, it was a busy night, and I thought I could just ask her another time. But I remember this pasta dish being absolute comfort food. My version tastes as close as I remember, though I suspect hers had more white wine than mine. And of to make this dairy-free, I’ve used coconut milk rather than the cream I think the original had.
Sabrina's recipe contained walnuts, which I'd have preferred to use - but I didn't have any and chose to use what I did have in my pantry (pecans) and my yard (rosemary).
Maybe this is the sort of simple, homey dish your Italian grandma might have served. Not being Italian, but being a grandma, maybe it’s appropriate.
Anyway, if you want a different way of serving your omega-3 fish, this is worth a try! It’s a great way to use the ends of the salmon that are less likely to get eaten because they don’t slice into such pretty fillets. And if you have any asparagus left, chop that in too. But at my house, that always disappears with the first meal.
See my Crusted Pecan-Mustard Salmon for directions for cooking the salmon you see below.
Is this a healthy meal?
Salmon, olive oil and grass-fed butter all are high in heart-healthy fats. If you do make the dish with walnuts, their healthy fat content is higher than that of pecans.
The meal is gluten-free with gluten-free pasta (I used Banza) and dairy-free with olive oil and coconut milk.
Can I use smoked or canned salmon for this dish?
Yes, either would work in this recipe. When using the smoked salmon, because it has so much flavor of its own, I’d reduce or eliminate the mustard and I’d taste carefully when I was adding the vinegar or lemon.
Please pin for later!
Can I use other fish in this recipe?
Steelhead trout would be the closest in color and flavor to salmon, and is considered a more sustainable catch. A firm fish would be the best match in texture. But cod, tilapia and barramundi are common in fish/pasta recipes, as are shellfish.
If you have a chance to make this recipe, please share!! And leave me a comment so that I know how it went for you.
AND if you are Italian and have a similar recipe, I'd love to see it. How close did I get?
Other seafood recipes you may enjoy
Garlic Dijon-Herb Salmon Baked in Parchment
Thai Green Coconut Milk Mahi Mahi Curry
Easy Massaman Salmon or Steelhead Curry
Shrimp Pasta with Olives and Artichoke Hearts
Shop Pecan-Garlic-Salmon Pasta
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Pecan-Garlic Salmon Pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter or good olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic minced or pressed
- 1 cup toasted or raw walnut or pecan pieces, chopped
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 13 ounces 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup white wine * optional but highly recommended
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice or a mixture of the two
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
- ¾ pound of the cooked salmon from Crusted Pecan Rosemary Salmon- skinned and flaked
- ¾ cup leftover cooked vegetable such as asparagus from the sheet pan recipe or zucchini, or peas (optional)
- 1 pound pasta - cooked until desired doneness I used Banza garbanzo spaghetti
- Parsley/rosemary to garnish
- Saute the chopped onion in the butter or olive oil until becoming translucent, 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
- Stir in the walnut pieces until they are coated with oil and, if you have used raw pieces, until they are a little toasted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the coconut milk, wine and mustard. Continue to cook on low-medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and taste the sauce. The vinegar or lemon should wake up the flavor of the sauce without making it too sour.
- Gently stir in the rosemary and the chopped salmon and taste again. It can be slightly salty as the pasta will soak up some of the salty flavor. Stir in the optional leftover cooked vegetable.
- Place the cooked pasta into bowls and serve the sauce over, garnishing with extra chopped rosemary or parsley.
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Chefkreso, thank you so much!! We thought it was really good.
It looks really delicious. This salmon pasta would be perfect with a glass of white wine on the porch!
What a perfect idea! I think that's exactly what we will do.
Taleen | Just As Tasty
This pasta looks incredible! I can't wait to try the pecan crusted salmon, sounds delicious!
Thanks, Taleen, we enjoyed both the pasta and the fillet versions, hope you will too!
This pasta looks amazing with the salmon sauce on top, what I great idea. Occassionaly I do have left-over salmon so I can't wait to give this a try.
Hi, Jere, it's so tasty, I'd love for you to try it and see what you think. Thanks for the comment!
Such a flavorful recipe and a great way to serve salmon and pasta. The perfect weeknight family meal for us, my kids love salmon!
Hi, Maria, it's our favorite "second meal" when we find a good piece of salmon, and great for weeknights.
Amy Liu Dong
I have never tried to make this kind of pasta and this one looks really delicious and creamy. I will try this, thank you!
Hi Amy, I hope you will enjoy this tasty dish as much as we do!
Pecans are my favorite nut and salmon is my favorite fish, so I already know I'm going to fall in love with this unique recipe.
Pecans and salmon are such a great combination in this dish, I'm glad to hear you think you'll enjoy it like we do. Thanks!
Love the flavors in this pasta dish. Trying it for dinner. Thanks for sharing
Thanks so much, Kushigalu. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we do.
Julie @ Running in a Skirt
We eat salmon about once a week so I'm always looking for a fresh way to prepare it! This version is perfect. The nuts go lovely with the garlic. Love the addition of pasta too.
Hi Julie, we love the salmon this way and hope you will too - the garlic and pecans really make it great.
I always love a new salmon recipe and this is definitely something I will be trying! Love the flavors
Sondra, the flavors go so well with the salmon, thanks for the comment.
What a great idea for using salmon trimmings. I'm always on the lookout for new pasta dishes, can't wait to try this. thanks for sharing.
Hi Sarah, it's great to find a recipe to enjoy the flavor of salmon without having to find a perfect fillet, and this is one of those.
I love salmon with pasta and this version looks really good. I've never thought of using coconut milk in place of dairy for pasta! Something I'd like to try!
Hi Jacqui, the coconut milk gives a creaminess like using cream in this recipe, plus a very slight sweetness that works well with the pecans. I hope you enjoy it!
This is such a unique pasta recipe! I love all the flavors, the pecan, garlic, and salmon all go amazing together!
It's got so many of my favorite flavors too, and makes a great pairing with pasta.
Pecans and galic sounds so good together and I am sure this pasta must have been just WOW.
Thanks, Sapana, I think the garlic and pecans really bring out the flavor of the salmon in this dish!
WOW! This salmon pasta looks super delicious. I need to make this for dinner tonight. It looks soo flavoursome. I love how you added garlic and pecan, it sounds so interesting. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Thanks, Ramona, we think the nuts, garlic and pasta really make the flavor of the salmon shine, while being a comfort food dinner.
Jen | Jen's Food Lab
I love salmon, so this is definitely a recipe that's up my alley. Love that the pecans add a bit of extra protein too.
Hi Jen, this is a great recipe, and my son, who's always looking to boost the protein content of his meals, gives it a thumbs-up too.
Oh yum, this looks like the perfect midweek meal. Wish a glass of wine of course!
Katie, I'm with you there on the wine, a dry white for this dish for sure!
This is such a flavorful dish I love to try. Pecans, garlic and salmon. I just love all those. This will be a hearty dinner.
Hi Lathi, it's a great dinner and we are so happy it was like we ate in the restaurant.
Hi, Lathi, yes, it was flavorful and very close to what we ate in the restaurant, which made me happy.
This is absolutely scrumptious and so perfect for a weeknight meal. I love the nuts for added texture in the pasta.
Kari, the pecans gave the best texture so that the salmon dish didn't get too creamy with the coconut milk. Thanks!
This looks delicious and I love that is kind of a second use for leftover salmon. I never use up the salmon in one sitting, so this is perfect. I imagine that its rich and satisfying. Thanks for the recipes - because I looked at the filet as well. Thanks!
Beth - exactly! We usually buy our salmon at Costco these days, and it's always an adventure to figure out a second meal with it. Thank you!