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Creamy One-Pot Pasta With Smoked Salmon and Asparagus

This Creamy One-Pot Pasta With Smoked Salmon and Asparagus brings bright flavors and subtle smokiness together for chic but easy weeknight dinner.
5 from 13 votes


  • 1/2 lb linguini (or any long noodles like fettuccini, spaghetti, etc.)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 heaping cup of roughly chopped asparagus, woody ends discarded, See notes*
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth; have extra on hand in case you need it.
  • 1 small to medium-sized lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup of whole fat milk, You can substitute cream if you aren't trying to lighten things up
  • 1/4-1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 4 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 2 TBSP capers, drained
  • 8 oz smoked salmon, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Then, add the garlic, onions, and asparagus; sauté until the ingredients are fragrant and tender—about 5-7 minutes. Once these ingredients are tender, carefully transfer them to a bowl with a slotted spoon and cover the bowl with a plate to trap the heat. Set them aside.
  • Pour two cups of the vegetable broth into that same cooking vessel and bring the broth to a simmer. Scrape any browned bits to deglaze the pan. This will add extra flavor. Add the pasta, fully immersing it (or as much as you can) into the simmering broth, and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice.
  • Let the noodles simmer in the broth until they're al dente or your preference of tenderness. In general, this should take about 25 minutes. Add extra broth as needed throughout the cooking process. If you're out of broth, simply use water. The noodles soak up a lot of the liquid as they cook, so you want to keep the cooking vessel replenished with liquid until the noodles are fully cooked, otherwise you'll be frying them.
  • When the noodles are near done, add the milk and the cream cheese, as well as a pinch of kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Stir well to mix and melt the cheese, and keep tossing the pasta until completely coated. Once the sauce has thickened and coated the pasta, add the cooked onion/garlic/asparagus you set aside earlier to the noodles as well as the spinach, capers, lemon zest, and smoked salmon. Toss again to distribute the ingredients throughout the pasta.
  • Remove the pasta from the heat, cover it, and let it stand for five minutes. Season the pasta with extra salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve with a lemon wedge for an extra spritz of lemon, if you'd like!


With asparagus, no one knows exactly where the "woody" end starts and finishes. The best way to figure it out is to hold an asparagus spear between your fingers and snap it in half, like a twig. The asparagus spear will break exactly where it needs to, closer to the end of the spear.
Zesting a lemon is easy, but if you haven't done it before, make sure you're not zesting too hard/deeply. When zesting, you only want the very top of the skin of the citrus fruit. Don't zest any of the white part beneath it (the pith), because the pith is extremely bitter and can ruin a dish.
A tip for reheating: When it comes to reheating creamy pastas, they typically come out pretty dry. In order to revive that creaminess, place your pasta into a saucepan and heat over moderate heat. Once your pasta starts to sizzle, add 1/8-1/4 cup of milk (depending on how much pasta you're reheating), bit by bit, and let it simmer a little. The milk will loosen the creaminess that's been bound to your starchy noodles and create creamy goodness all over again.