Fresh vegetables, spicy smoked salmon, and homemade mayo come together in this Cajun Smoked Salmon Zucchini Pasta Salad to create a paleo, no-cook meal full of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Serve it for a light lunch or nourishing dinner!
Beat the Heat with a No-Bake Dinner
Do you love salmon as much as I do? Whether I’m using it in recipes like Baked Salmon and Asparagus, Easy Paleo Salmon Cakes, my Superfood Baked Salmon, or this smoked salmon pasta, it never disappoints! However, with temperatures easily reaching 100 degrees and more in Utah during the summer months, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and heat up the house even more. So, when the craving for salmon struck, I knew I had to come up with an alternative. Luckily, drawing inspiration from some of my favorite cold pasta salad recipes, I created the perfect no-bake smoked salmon salad!
Using fresh summer produce, I capitalized on the ever-popular spiralizing trend (Have you tried it yet? It’s a game-changer!) to create grain-free zucchini noodles. Then, all I had to do was combine the ingredients, whip up the sauce, and dinner was served! There was no sweating over a stove or standing for hours in a hot kitchen. Plus, clean-up was super minimal and done in a jiffy. I mean, does it get any better than that?
If you’re ready to learn how to prepare a nutritious meal in minutes, keep reading to find all my smoked salmon pasta secrets!
No Cook Fresh Ingredients
Given that all of the ingredients in this recipe are super fresh, the secret to creating crazy good flavor is utilizing all the amazing spices and homemade mayo. They combine with the fresh vegetables and savory salmon, to create an explosion of flavor in each bite! To get started you’ll need the following items.
- Zucchini – If you don’t have enough zucchini or have an abundance of squash, you can substitute 1 out for yellow summer squash. Or, if you aren’t following a low-carb diet, feel free to use regular, gluten-free pasta.
- Red Onion – I recommend red onion as it gives a nice tangy flavor, but you could also use fresh chopped shallots instead.
- Tomatoes – Sliced cherry tomatoes provide a sweet flavor in bite-sized pieces, but you could technically slice up any tomatoes you like best.
- Real Mayo – What is real mayo? It’s mayonnaise made with unrefined and cold pressed oils such as olive oil or avocado oil. I highly recommend you take the time to make your own mayo. It’s seriously unbeatable. However, if you’re looking for an egg-free alternative, you can swap it out with red pepper hummus.
- Smoked Salmon – Feel free to use either smoked wood salmon or hot smoked salmon. Just be sure the skin is removed!
Swap: If you swap the mayo out for hummus, the fat content will be slightly reduced.
How to Make No-Cook Smoked Salmon Salad
This smoked salmon pasta is perfect for those times when you “need food now”, busy weeknights, and everything in between. Seriously, you’re not going to believe how easy it is to make!
The first steps are to spiralize your zucchini and prepare (or buy) your paleo mayo. Then, place the zucchini in a bowl with all the other chopped veggies, and add a dash of fresh lemon juice and pepper.
Pro-Tip: Pat the zucchini noodles with a dry paper towel to remove any excess liquid before adding in the rest of the vegetables.
Once the veggies are combined, toss them all with the mayo making sure everything is well-coated.
To finish, add the sliced salmon and seasonings. For the best results, let it chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes, and enjoy!
How to Spot Quality Salmon
When it comes to choosing the best type of salmon to use, it is, of course, important to first consider what you have access to and which types will fit within your budget. However, if you’re looking to really get the most out of your salmon, not all varieties are created equal.
Nutrition Tip: Some smoked salmon varieties have sneaky ingredients. Be sure to check the ingredient list to ensure that there is no gluten, honey or sugar for Whole30 diets, or any other allergy triggers!
For this reason, I recommend using wild-caught salmon whenever possible. Also, make sure it doesn’t have any extra preservatives containing wheat. You’ll know a fresh, quality salmon when you see it by its looks. The best salmon will have firm and shiny flesh, a rich red/pink color, and a mild smell. No fishy odors here!
No Spiralizer? No Problem!
If you don’t have a spiralizer, I highly recommend you get one. Not only are they convenient, but they’re also super fun to use! In the meantime, there are several ways you can create zucchini noodles with the following tools. I’ll give you a brief overview below, but be sure to take a look here for a more in-depth guide.
- Julienne Peeler – Run zucchini through a julienne peeler to create zoodle sticks similar to noodles.
- Mandoline – Carefully slide sliced zucchini over the blade of a mandoline to create thin sticks.
- Paring Knife – Using a sharp paring knife, carefully create thin stips of zucchini resembling flat noodles.
- Vegetable Peeler – Slide a vegetable peeler lengthwise along zucchini to create long ribbon-like strands.
What to know about Salmon Pasta
If kept in an airtight container, this smoked salmon salad will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days.
I would not recommend freezing this recipe. The high water content of zucchini would likely cause it to become soggy once defrosted, and the emulsion of the mayo would not thaw well.
Yes, while smoked salmon is a super convenient way to add tons of protein and healthy fat to this dish, nearly any protein source you prefer would work. If you’re looking for alternatives, I would recommend using chicken, shrimp, tuna, or another lightly flavored option that would not overpower the Cajun flavors.
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There ya have it, the easiest meal prep recipe ever! Do you have any favorite no-bake meals? Let me know in the comments below.