Smoked Salmon Kale Carbonara

Salmon and kale is one combo. I often cannot pass up. Each is a favorite of mine, and together, they make the dream team of nutrition. Filled with a longer list of vitamins than calories per serving, kale’s been on everyone’s grocery list these past few years. It’s been replacing potatoes in the form of chips, it’s been added to the menu of nearly every smoothie place I ever frequent, heck, many are even claiming kale is the new bacon, as our society steadily becomes more food conscious.

And salmon has always been regarded as the king of the crop in the seafood world for its high level of omega 3’s. One serving also provides 100% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin D, in which recently, more and more studies are revealing a significant portion of Americans are deficient, leading to an array of health consequences.

So both are a great start to creating a meal, particularly when local kale is springing into season and wild varieties of salmon are available. I found this particularly light version of carbonara from the ever-so-useful blogosphere and decided I’d try my hand at making my first kitchen-cooked carbonara. Typically, it’s a sauce made with heavy cream, eggs and often bacon. Since I don’t eat bacon and rarely have cream at my disposal, this altered variation using both kale and smoked salmon seemed like a far superior option for my preferences.

This is a flavorful dish that’s fairly easy to make. I almost preferred the carbonara at room temperature, so I could totally see this as a picnic/potluck item. Just make sure to cook the egg through if you plan on using this dish at such an occasion.

Smoked Salmon Kale Carbonara

Yield: Serves 4


  • -12 oz. whole wheat pasta
  • -1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • -½ small onion, minced
  • -2 clove of garlic, minced
  • -¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • -2 large bunches of kale (about 12 ounces), thick stems removed, leaves cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • -2 eggs
  • -2 ounces (1 cup) grated parmesan cheese
  • -Freshly ground black pepper
  • -6 oz. smoked salmon, torn into small pieces
  • -1 Tbsp. lemon juice


  1. Cook pasta according to the package instructions, until just tender. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale. Cover the pan and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Beat together the eggs, cheese, ¼ tsp. salt, and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Transfer the cooked pasta back to the cooking pot. Stir in the kale mixture and salmon. Stirring vigorously, add the egg mixture, then the lemon juice. Serve immediately.

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  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Oh so delicious! I found you on FoodGawker today and made this for dinner tonight. It was amazing! It’s always wonderful to find a recipe that sneaks a full bunch of kale into my BF’s mouth without him picking around it…really hit the spot. Thank you for the posting! I’ll keep my eye on your site!
    Much Love! Ashley

    • Reply
      Grace Dickinson
      August 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

      Thanks Ashley! I love kale, but I too am always looking for ways to sneak it into every meal I can get a chance. So healthy!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Oh my gosh – there is so much to love about this recipe. The lightened up carbonara, the combo of kale and salmon…thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    September 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Hey Grace…Just thought I’d let you know, dear BF actually ASKED for the pasta again last night. It’s (and he’s!) a keeper!
    Have a wonderful day! It’s great to find your blog, and all the wonderful inspiration you’ve brought into our lives. :}

    • Reply
      Grace Dickinson
      September 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Oh, that’s great to hear! I’m so glad you found my site. I’m always inspired by my readers. Thanks for sharing Ashley.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe! I tweaked it a little and absolutely loved the dish. I sauteed kale and some other greens for cooking from TJ (mustard, turnip, chard) in a chicken broth for more flavor and at the end added approx. 1.5-2 tbsp of white wine, few raisins, cut down parmesan and melted low-fat mozzarella on the top. Such a good combo of delish and healthy ingredients in a usually diet unfriendly carbonara.

    • Reply
      Grace Dickinson
      January 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

      Sounds great! Love the combination of greens you chose.

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