Smoked Salmon Carbonara

pasta, salmon, eggs

Preconceived notions: we all have them. Maybe you think you don’t like pumpkin, when in fact you just don’t like the texture of pumpkin pie (and that’s the only pumpkin-y thing you’ve ever eaten – what a shame!) Perhaps you think American Jews don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (yup, heard that one this weekend.) I suppose it might apply to some, but none that I’ve ever met. Maybe you assume that at least half of the attendees at your 10-year high school reunion would have no idea who Cara MaidenName was nevermind Cara MaidenName MarriedName. Oh wait, that was me. And I was wrong.

Here are a couple others I was wrong about lately:

1) Carbonara. Probably due to the lack of a single drop of Italian blood in my veins, I always thought it was taboo. In other words, full of cream and butter and carbs. It was something I never thought to attempt, until I was faced with a bag of whole wheat pasta (more on that in a second) and some leftover smoked salmon, wanting something other than a tomato sauce or typical cream sauce. It turns out that carbonara doesn’t require cream or butter at all but rather just an egg and a bit of cream. That “cream” sauce? It’s protein, people. The dish can be further balanced out and bulked up with protein and veggies; in this case, smoked salmon and kale.

2) Whole wheat pasta. I see it falling into two categories: plain ol’ whole wheat pasta that tastes exactly like white, but boasts no nutritional superiority whatsoever, or bulked-up multigrain pasta which is in fact better for you, but has that faint hint of… cardboard. Whole wheat pasta with extra nutritious but with the smooth, rich taste and texture of egg noodles? I didn’t think it existed. That is, until Al Dente Pasta Company sent me some of their Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Flax.

You might remember me mentioning Al Dente in the past, for their line of low-carb pasta. I’ve been a fan for quite some time and most recently used it in my Shrimp Quesadilla Fettuccine. Keeping my carbs in check is still important to me, but so is balance and flavor, which is why I was happy to accept an offer to try out some of Al Dente’s other varieties (there are lots of ’em!)

This hearty pasta has the perfect weight and velvety texture to cling to the creamy sauce and stand up to the bulky protein and leafy greens in every satisfying bite. Needless to say, I won’t be looking at carbonara or whole wheat pasta the same way ever again.

Consider this post a sneak preview of what’s to come very soon – hint hint, you’ll be getting a chance to try out some Al Denta pasta yourself!


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Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Yield: 2 servings


4oz whole wheat pasta, such as Al Dente Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Flax
6 oz chopped kale leaves
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg
1 oz grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 oz smoked salmon, torn into small pieces
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, adding the torn kale for the last 2 minutes. Drain pasta and kale, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook onion for 3 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic, red pepper, and lemon zest; cook for one minute more, stirring,

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water.

Add pasta and kale to the skillet with the onion mixture, and toss to heat through. Reduce heat to low. Add smoked salmon and pour in the egg-cheese mixture. Cooking, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens and coats pasta. Season to taste with black pepper. Serve hot.

Nutrition Facts:

Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 400.7
Total Fat 15.1 g
Saturated Fat 4.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.8 g
Cholesterol 126.2 mg
Sodium 582.7 mg
Potassium 277.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 48.0 g
Dietary Fiber 8.0 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Protein 25.9 g

Cara Lyons,

This recipe is shared at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 11/29/2011 at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

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19 Responses to “Smoked Salmon Carbonara”

  1. 1

    Anonymous — November 28, 2011 @ 4:35 am Reply

    I think you mean "alfredo" requires butter, etc. – "carbonara" means it includes bacon!

  2. 2

    Kate — November 28, 2011 @ 9:42 am Reply

    Wait wait wait…someone doesn't like pumpkin pie?  For shame!

  3. 3

    Lauren — November 28, 2011 @ 12:02 pm Reply

    1. I'm making carbonara for the first time later this week… the addition of smoked salmon and kale sounds fantastic! 2. I also attended my 10 year high school reunion this past weekend – although the turnout was rather low, it was a good time =). 3. I love Al Dente pasta, but haven't bought it in a while. Thanks for the reminder!!

  4. 4

    Molly — November 28, 2011 @ 2:10 pm Reply

    This. Is. Amazing. You have just made a life-long desire and curiosity into a reality. Yay! Thank you!

  5. 5

    Emily @ A Cambridge Story — November 28, 2011 @ 3:16 pm Reply

    What a neat take on carbonara. This dish definitely can be lightened substantially and still taste great!

  6. 6

    Fattyfile — November 28, 2011 @ 4:06 pm Reply

    Wait, whole wheat pasta has no nutritional superiority over white?  Are you talking about the whole wheat "blend" pasta or straight-up whole wheat pasta?  I just Googled nutrition stats for the whole wheat spaghetti I have at home (TJ's organic whole wheat) versus white spaghetti (I randomly picked Barilla) and while there's no hugely amazing benefit, there is more fiber for the wheat spaghetti and a smidge less sugar, so that's something, right?  I don't eat a ton of pasta and I know that my meals that have quinoa as the "grain" (I know it's not technically a grain) are nutritionally superior, but I've always thought picking the wheat pasta over the white was a more virtuous choice. Could I have been enjoying the white pasta all along?  Genuinely curious!  And this recipe looks delish.

  7. 7

    Cara — November 28, 2011 @ 4:33 pm Reply

    "there's no hugely amazing benefit" – that's how I feel. You are right, some (most?) brands have a few more grams of fiber, but for me personally, I know I get more than enough fiber from the rest of my diet (I eat a lot of veggies and legumes) so I have no need to cram in a few extra from a serving of pasta. I hardly ever eat pasta anyway so I feel like it doesn't matter much. I suppose for those who eat a lot, whole wheat is better – but a better choice overall is to cut back on pasta in general and eat more nutritious grains and seeds 🙂

  8. 8

    Laura @ GF Pantry — November 28, 2011 @ 8:22 pm Reply

    Oh delicious! My husband loves salmon. I am going to make this recipe with GF noodles. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

  9. 9

    Lizzy — November 28, 2011 @ 8:39 pm Reply

    Cara- what a dish!!!  I miss smoked salmon so much- it's so hard for me to go without it for so long!  I've made carbonara before (ya know, because I'm half Italian and all…- maybe not).  Your version looks spectacular with all my favorite things.PS- One time someone asked me if I (Jews) believed in the same God.  Yep. Wow.

  10. 10

    Joanne — November 28, 2011 @ 10:42 pm Reply

    I'm so glad you discovered the joys of carbonara! I never make it with cream – only almond milk! And last time I made it with tempeh bacon…though smoked salmon sounds WAY better.

  11. 11

    Jennifurla — November 28, 2011 @ 10:46 pm Reply

    This is my favorite post of the day, it really has my tastebuds singing.

  12. 12

    Cara — November 28, 2011 @ 11:46 pm Reply

    Aww, thanks! That's one of the nicest things I've heard today 🙂

  13. 13

    DeliciousDish — November 29, 2011 @ 1:12 am Reply

    Looks like a very lightened up version of carbonara. I'll have to try it this way some time. I'm guilty of making it with bacon and Parmesan… never, ever any cream though. That's cheating! 🙂 I'm realizing how versatile of a dish it is after seeing your version.

  14. 14

    Eileen Beran — November 29, 2011 @ 9:13 pm Reply

    I love carbonara, and this looks like a great variation!

  15. 15

    shannon — November 30, 2011 @ 3:23 pm Reply

    looks wonderful!  why haven't i tried the salmon and kale combo yet?  and i've been impressed with the al dente pastas i've tried, but it's been awhile so I should revist them…  or bust out my pasta maker attachment 😉

  16. 16

    Olga @ MangoTomato — December 2, 2011 @ 2:33 am Reply

    love smoked salmon. but I still like my pasta done more than al dente.try smoked salmon in an omelet: so good!

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  19. 17

    Gourmet Creations — March 21, 2013 @ 8:55 pm Reply


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