This farfalle with fresh salmon proves that although it isn’t a native Italian fish, and one rarely sees it on restaurant menus, its rich flavor makes for a great pasta sauce. This straightforward farfalle recipe brings out its flavor. If salmon were popular in Italy, this is probably how it would be prepared.–Giuliano Hazan

A white bowl filled with farfelle with fresh salmon is nested inside another white bowl with a carafe and glass of red wine in the background.

Farfalle with Fresh Salmon

4.70 / 10 votes
In this quick and easy pasta main dish, fresh salmon melds beautifully with a rich tomato cream sauce and tender pasta.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories783 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound salmon fillet, skinned* (see Note below)
  • 1 pound farfalle, (penne or fusilli are also good)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 to 8 basil leaves


  • Fill a large pot with about 6 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
  • Pour the oil in a 12-inch skillet, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is sizzling. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and cook until the tomatoes release their liquid and it evaporates, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • While the tomatoes are cooking, cut the salmon into strips about 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long.
  • When the tomato liquid has evaporated, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water and then add the farfalle. Stir well and cook until al dente.
  • While the farfalle is cooking, add the salmon to the tomatoes, season with salt, and add the cream. Coarsely chop or rip the basil and add it to the skillet. Cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about 1/3, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • When the farfalle is done, drain well, toss it with the salmon sauce, and serve at once.


*What You Need To Know About How To Rid Salmon Of Its Skin

To rid the salmon of its slippery skin, you can ask your fishmonger to do it. But sometimes they forget–or pretend not to hear you. If this happens, grab a paper towel in 1 hand and a sharp chef’s knife in the other. Place the fillet, skin side down, on a work surface. Grasp one edge in one hand, using the paper towel to provide traction between your fingers and the skin. In your other hand, grasp the knife and make a gash in the fillet about 1/4 inch from the edge of the fillet. The gash should cut through flesh and go almost but not quite all the way through the skin. Scooch the knife blade between the flesh and the skin, angling it about 45 degrees, and slide the blade along the length of the fillet, pressing gently. The fish should fall away in a neat, skinless fillet.

Adapted From

Thirty Minute Pasta

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 783 kcalCarbohydrates: 94 gProtein: 29 gFat: 32 gSaturated Fat: 13 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gCholesterol: 82 mgSodium: 56 mgPotassium: 1051 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 10 gVitamin A: 2401 IUVitamin C: 28 mgCalcium: 83 mgIron: 3 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 Giuliano Hazan. Photo © 2009 Joseph De Leo. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a very straightforward pasta recipe that was easy to prepare and ready in under 30 minutes, just as stated in the cookbook title. Even with the cream, the sauce was light and delicious. Adding the salmon imparted a wonderful flavor and also boosted the nutritional value of the dish.

Amazing pasta dish—lots of flavor, not too rich. easy to make. I made this with fresh wild-caught Alaska salmon (the best IMHO) and fresh summer tomatoes. When there are so few ingredients, I think this recipe benefits from using the freshest and the best. Will definitely make this again.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This dish was a hit with the whole family. There was a nice balance of flavors between the sweetness of the salmon, tomato, and creamy sauce. The sauce coated the pasta beautifully, I used farfalle, but I think if you were to use a penne, or another hollow pasta, you might want a smidge more sauce.

  2. Please tell me: has anyone in the culinary history of the earth EVER cooked farfalle and had a good result? You know what I mean: no teeny knot of gritty hardness right in the middle where all the pasta folds overlap, and no floppy ends over-cooked to starchy blandness? I think farfalle should just…go away.

  3. I lived in Naples Italy for 3 years during my Navy days, and there was dish called “Farfalle al Salmone” on almost every restaurant’s menu as a “primo” course of the meal. It’s made with smoked, not fresh salmon, and has a rosa crème sauce, I use some sun dried tomato pesto and crème to make it. It also has baby peas in it. It was always one of my favorite dishes there, and I’ve done a pretty good job at replicating it.

    1. Jim, that sounds great. if you want to share the recipe here, I think our readers would enjoy that.

      1. I’ll give it a try, guessing on measurements here, but should be close for about 4 servings. Have all the ingredients prepped beforehand, it comes together fast once you start.

        8 ounces farfalle pasta
        1 shallot, minced
        2 tablespoons olive oil
        6 ounces hot smoked salmon, minced
        1/4 cup vodka
        2 Tbl. sun-dried tomato pesto
        3/4 cup heavy cream
        3/4 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
        2 tablespoons butter
        Some freshly grated parmesan (I know, no cheese in seafood, but hey, I like it!)

        1. Cook the farfalle in salted water until about 1 minute short of al dente. Reserve at least a cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.

        2. Saute the shallot in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until softened.

        3. Add the smoked salmon and vodka, and saute until the liquid is almost gone. Add the sun-dried tomato pesto, cook 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add the cream and simmer until the sauce thickens.

        4. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the pasta. Toss with the sauce and gradually add the pasta water until you have a nice thick sauce that really coats the pasta. (You might not need all the water.) Cook until pasta is al dente. Remove from heat, stir in butter, peas, and parmesan. Serve.