Main dish

Salmon Pappardelle with Spinach and Watercress Pesto

Amazing pappardelle pasta with flaked salmon and tossed in a creamy spinach and watercress cream sauce. Make this for a weeknight dinner, you'll love it!

To recipe
Fresh Coho Salmon with pappardelle pasta and pesto
Recipe insights & TIPS

This might seem like a complicated recipe, but if you stick to the steps you'll be just fine. In fact I think after you inhale it and lick the last splashes of creamy pesto sauce from the plate, you'll be so glad you made it!

Fresh Coho Salmon with pappardelle pasta and pesto

Step 1 - Make the amazingly green pesto sauce using spinach and watercress. Yup, there's still a few leaves of basil to add, but this is spinach driven. Throw the ingredients in a blender and hit the button.Step 2 - Season your gorgeous deep red salmon filet and bake it in the oven. I used Coho salmon but feel free to use any other variety. Once it's baked, get in there with your fingers and pull it apart. Toss the skin!

Freshly seasoned Coho salmon

Step 3 - Boil the pasta, (yawn). So easy you can even check your messages and snap a pic for Instagram! Follow me while you're at it @foodnessgraciousStep 4 - Make the sauce, taste it with a tiny spoon just like a real french chef and adjust the taste with some salt and pepper. Take the bright green fresh pesto that you created and add it to the white sauce. Watch it turn into another crazy shade of green. Colorful food is so cool!

Papperdelle pasta to go with my salmon pesto

Step 5 - The exciting part, start telling everyone dinner is ready. Throw the pasta and flaked salmon into the sauce, toss and shower with grated Parmesan.You know what step 6 should be, right?

Fresh spinach and watercress pesto with salmon and Parmesan

The pesto should make about 1 1/2 cups. Keep any extras in the fridge and use for more pasta dishes.

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Fresh Coho Salmon with pappardelle pasta and pesto

Main dish
20 minutes
Total TIME:
65 minutes
45 minutes


  • 2 cloves large garlic peeled
  • 2 1/2 cups spinach leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups watercress leaves
  • 6 leaves small-medium sized basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 cups olive oil
  • 3/4- pound salmon filet
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • 8 oz dry pappardelle pasta
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Ingredient Swaps


  1. Add the garlic cloves, spinach, watercress and Parmesan to a blender and turn to high.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil until the mixture becomes liquid and has no lumps.
  3. Season to taste with some salt and black pepper and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Season the salmon with the thyme, salt and black pepper.
  6. Place a large oven-proof skillet (10-12 inch) on a high flame and add the tablespoon of olive oil.
  7. When the oil gets hot, gently add the salmon filet skin side up.
  8. Cook for about 3 minutes and then flip over. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Transfer the salmon to a plate and cook the pasta as per the manufacturer's instructions.
  10. Drain the pappardelle.
  11. In the same pan as you cooked the salmon, add the cream, milk, butter and garlic powder.
  12. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, It should thicken slightly.
  13. Season with salt and pepper and add 1/4 cup of the spinach pesto you made earlier.
  14. Whisk the pesto into the cream and taste. Add more pesto if desired.
  15. Take the drained pasta and add it to the cream sauce.
  16. Flake the salmon with a fork getting rid of any skin that you see.
  17. Crumble the salmon over the pasta and toss the mixture together in the pan.
  18. Garnish with some more grated Parmesan and spinach leaves.
  19. Serve at once.
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