Greek Salmon Pasta has been a family favorite for two generations. I can still remember my excitement when Mom would make this dish growing up. I especially loved the leftovers, and would gobble up the whole batch when Mom wasn’t looking.
The lemon-garlic dressing on soft, fresh pasta, accented by anise, feta, and olives is an irresistible combination. When my husband and daughter found out I was posting this beloved recipe, they teased me that I really needed to test the salmon pasta on them many more times.
A Little Food History
As a child, Greek Salmon Pasta introduced me to the flavor of anise, which made such a positive impact on me that it’s become one of my favorite spices. Anise is part of the parsley family, and although it has a licorice flavor, is not related to the European licorice plant. (The roots of the licorice plant are where authentic licorice flavoring comes from.)
I will also share a little “spice history” with you. June enjoys hearing stories about food origins at mealtimes. I like how these educational stories connect her historically to the food on her plate.
If you serve this dish to your family, tell them that Ancient Egyptians were the first to record the use of herbs and spices 4,000 years ago, and that anise was one of the spices they used back then.
The Greeks and Romans used anise for medicinal purposes. The Greek physician Hippocrates recommended using anise to treat coughs. (Anise tea is still used today to treat coughs in traditional medicine settings.) The Romans served anise cakes (called mustaceum) at the end of weddings and banquets to prevent indigestion and gas. These anise cakes are said to be the precursors of modern wedding cakes.
But enough of the history lesson, let’s get back to eating!
My mom’s original recipe did not include salmon. Because of the cheese and pine nuts, the dish can be fully satisfying without any meat, especially when accompanied by a nice green salad or puréed vegetable soup. When I prepare the vegetarian version of this salad, I sometimes add cannellini beans for a bit more heft. I started adding salmon to this dish as part of more recent efforts to make sure my family is regularly eating foods with omega-3s.
Salmon Pasta Suggestions
Two weeks ago I posted my best baked salmon recipe, and I recommend using this method to get the most tender and juicy results for this Greek Salmon Pasta. I prefer making the noodle salad ahead of time and then adding the freshly baked salmon right before serving. It’s a wonderful fast food if you can do the make-ahead part. I like to make a big batch because it makes for delicious leftovers. Although I warn you, leftovers won’t last long!