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Creamy pesto salmon pasta with peas and spinach

What are the most important things for us stressed out mums when it comes to getting tea on the table midweek? As far as I’m concerned – feel free to chime in – it’s got to be quick if it’s dinner on a school day. It has to be tasty, ideally for adults as well as little people. I would love it if it were healthy, containing some choice vegetables that they won’t hurl across the dining room, or worse, ignore entirely.

Is this smoked salmon pasta the holy grail then? Because it ticks all the above boxes… oh yeah! They both loved it, even my 4 year old, Arthur the Pea Hater, who exclaimed that if I made peas like this all the time then he’d always eat them up!? Duh, mum!!

I have rediscovered creme fraiche as an ingredient. I used to use it all the time, like in the 90s! Why did I stop? I love it. It is an instant sauce really, with a tang that straight cream hasn’t got. Use half fat if you want, it’s perfectly acceptable.

Veg wise, if you have fussy eaters for offspring, and think presenting spinach to them is entering crazy town territory, either throw caution to the wind and try it (the pesto works wonders), or leave it out entirely. Hey, you’re still getting one green veg in there. Maybe consider switching it up with some sweetcorn? That’d be good too, right?

The best thing about this dish is that it’s on the table in the time in takes to make the pasta, so, about 15 minutes from putting water on to boil to serving it up. Don’t believe me? Try it! Buy the best pesto you can for this, as it makes a difference. Mine was a deli sort that would only stay fresh for a few days – the next best thing to homemade. For the smoked salmon it’s OK to buy those much cheaper packets of offcuts, they’re perfect for pasta.

Serves: 4 (2 adults and 2 kids)
Prep time: 5 minutes (including time it takes for pan of water to boil!)
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

300g penne pasta (any type is fine)
100g smoked salmon, cut into rough strips
100g peas
125g spinach
4-5 tablespoon of pesto
4-5 tablespoons of creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
A little olive oil (1/2 tablespoon)
Squeeze of lemon (optional)
Parmesan, lots, to serve


  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil, with an optional pinch of salt. Add pasta when boiling angrily. Just before it’s done, scoop out a half mugful of cooking water, and put to one side.  
  2. Snip the salmon into ribbons with scissors. 
  3. In a little frying pan over a medium heat, once the pasta is cooking and not before, add a lick of oil and throw in your peas and then spinach. Let it wilt but not completely go to mush. 
  4. Stir in the pesto and creme fraiche. Add the smoked salmon. 
  5. Season, stir and turn off heat. All you want to do is heat through. 
  6. Once the pasta is done, drain (reserving a little cooking water remember), and tip it into the frying pan (or vice versa). Mix well, squeeze a little lemon if you like. Season, and add a small splash of pasta water – this will stop if going sticky or claggy. Mix again.
  7. Serve immediately with copious amounts of parmesan.


  1. Anonymous
    October 13, 2014 / 1:28 pm

    Love it, my kinda food! I always have Yeo Valley creme fraiche in the fridge, sooo useful and tasty too. Keep up the great work, www, we're in constant need of inspiration on what to cook. xx

  2. October 13, 2014 / 5:07 pm

    Ahh lovely comment! Yes me and creme fraiche are firm friends once more, after being estranged for a while! X

  3. October 15, 2014 / 10:36 am

    I'm another one who always has creme fraiche in the fridge! Its so good for creamy pastas like your gorgeous recipe. I also use it to tame down curries or dishes that I have made a bit too spicy for the kids!!

  4. October 15, 2014 / 12:35 pm

    Lovely recipe! I really like pesto and I'm always looking for different recipes, so happy to run on this one

  5. October 17, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    Good idea re curries, I use Greek yoghurt in the same way… X

  6. October 17, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    I'm mad about pesto at the mo… Love it, it's so versatile x

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