Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad by Chef John Ponticelli.


Living in the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to have access to many wonderful food treasures such as local smoked salmon. As the Garde Mange Chef at Tulalip Resort Casino, I am given the opportunity to create a deep selection of recipes featuring fresh and local ingredients. 

I wanted to share a dish using the Tulalip Tribe's local smoked salmon, which has be-come very popular. I decided to create a pasta salad that showcased some of my fa-vorite ingredients. The goal was to make a dish that offered layered flavors with a cool refreshing taste that pairs well with the salmon's smokey flavor.

Serves 10-12 


1 pound smoked salmon

1 pound mini penne pasta, Barilla brand

2 each red bell peppers, medium diced

2 cups cucumber, medium diced 

2 cups celery, medium diced 

1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced

1 cup Italian dressing, see recipe 

Making the salad 

Cooking the penne pasta

Place a large stockpot with 5 quarts of water on high heat. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil. Once the water starts to boil, add the penne pasta and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender. Drain well and place in a medium size mixing bowl and reserve for later.

Chopping and mixing together

Medium dice the celery and red peppers. Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut across the cucumber into medium size pieces. Thinly slice the green onions. Mix the cooked pasta, celery, red peppers and green onions together. 

Smoked salmon prep

Smoked salmon is readily available in the Pacific Northwest, so I would suggest looking for fresh tribal smoked salmon whenever possible.

Take the salmon and start by removing the skin. Gently break the salmon into small quarter size pieces and place in the same bowl with the other ingredients. Add the two dressings and gently mix to evenly coat the salad. Refrigerate until ready to serve the salad.

Creamy Italian Dressing


1 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1 teaspoon granulated (dried) garlic

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup red bell peppers, finely minced 

1/4 cup onion, finely minced

1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup grated parmesan  

1/2 cup canola oil, add at the end

Making the dressing

Use a large mixing bowl and whisk together the red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, garlic, red peppers, onions, oregano and basil. Once well blended, slowly add the canola oil while whisking until a smooth consistency is achieved. Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

“Chef’s Hack” 

Pasta salad six ways and more

I am going to share several several variations to change up this recipe. By simply changing the protein this recipe takes on a new flavor profile: add pulled pork, chicken or ham, grilled beef (steak), Italian salami, or seafood such as shrimp, Dungeness crab, and lobster. 

I also like to add some additional vinegar, lemon or lime juice to the dressings so the salad has a nice acidic bite to it. The tartness these add to the salad helps to create more palate movement so the salad has a nice bright punch. 

This can also be a vegetarian pasta salad by adding a variety of grilled or fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, red and yellow peppers, asparagus, or any favorite vegetables. 

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.