If it's spring, it must be time for an herby salmon salad

  • Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before.

    Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before. Matthew Mead/Associated Press

  • Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before.

    Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before. Matthew Mead/Associated Press

  • Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before.

    Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before. Matthew Mead/Associated Press

  • Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before.

    Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before. Matthew Mead/Associated Press

  • Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before.

    Pasta salad with salmon and creamy cilantro dressing is a delicious spring dish. It's to assemble and travels well, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics. It also can be prepped in advance by poaching the fish and cooking the pasta the night before. Matthew Mead/Associated Press

 
Updated 4/5/2016 10:03 AM

Nothing speaks to me of spring like a salmon salad. It's light and pretty and herby, and when you add pasta it becomes a real meal. It's also quite portable, so you'll want to think of this when you're envisioning lunch at your desk the next day, or when you're invited to a potluck event. And talk about easy to make. Poach the salmon. Boil the pasta. Puree the dressing. Dump everything together and you're good.

I speed chill the salmon by popping it in the freezer for a few minutes. But if you have more time, you certainly could poach the salmon the night before and refrigerate it until ready. Likewise, the pasta also could be cooled briefly in the freezer, spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet (or similarly prepped the day before).

 

Some people really, really love cilantro, and some people really, really hate it. It's actually a genetic thing. For some people, it tastes soapy or otherwise unpleasant. So this recipe -- with its creamy cilantro dressing -- clearly is for the lovers, and not the dish to make if you're not sure about your audience. I love it (obviously, I guess), and I love this dressing. But if you'd rather lose the cilantro, feel free to substitute fresh basil.

• Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/

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