Best Pesto Salmon Ever! quite possibly…

I tried this recipe last night and have to say, it may be one of my favorites! The pesto turned my salmon into a 5 Star meal!

This dairy-free pesto is heavy on pistachio nuts and light on basil. A touch of garlic, basil and lemon zest and blended together with olive oil, this is a thick, rich sauce that’s more than a little addictive. It’s tempting to eat this pistachio pesto with a spoon, but it’s even better slathered over fatty, pan-seared or grilled salmon. I always, even on a snowy Chicago evening, cook my salmon on the grill outdoors so that my house doesn’t smell. Every once in awhile, my husband comes home before me and cooks salmon in the oven and quite honestly, it’s just as good.

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Make this, and you’ll feel like a talented chef instead of a home cook who’s stuck in a rut of salmon dinners that are just boring Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh wait…that’s me 😉

With a few variations, this pistachio pesto can lead you to other amazing meals too. Add a dash of red pepper flakes, and serve a spicy version of the pesto with roasted pork. Use parsley, instead of basil, for a new flavor. Or, thin the pesto out with full-fat Greek yogurt, and drizzle it over roasted vegetables. Since I made this pesto last night and have some leftovers, this is exactly what I’m going to do tonight!

Like any nut, pistachios are best enjoyed with a little self-control if you’re watching your calories. But don’t worry, this pesto is so rich you aren’t likely to overindulge in one sitting. That said, pistachios aren’t really a nut to fret over, unless you have an allergy. They’re pretty low in phytic acid, a potent source of prebiotic fiber (which is so good for your gut), and can reduce the glucose response to carb-rich meals. Not that this is a carb-rich meal. Quite the opposite, actually. Skin-on salmon + pistachio pesto can be a go-to recipe when you want a high-protein, high fat meal that’s also high in flavor.

Is your mouth watering yet??


Servings: 4


  • 1 1 ½ pounds skin-on salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces and seasoned with salt
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 cup raw pistachios – I found mine at Whole Foods
  • 1 small garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped or thinly sliced basil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (120 ml)

Preheat oven to 350º F/176º C

Heat avocado oil in an ovenproof skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium-high heat.

Place the salmon in the hot skillet, skin side down. Once the fillets are in the pan, do not move the salmon. Cook about 5 minutes, pressing down on the salmon once or twice with a spatula to press the skin against the hot pan.

Put the skillet into the oven. Cook 4 to 6 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the fish.

If, like me, you love your salmon on the grill, season the salmon with salt and wrap in tin foil. Place directly on the grill for about 8 minutes. If your salmon is approx 1” thick, 8 minutes is usually the magic timing for perfectly cooked salmon.

Serve the salmon warm or at room temperature, with pistachio pesto on top.

Let me know if you try it and like it – I felt like a Michelin Chef 😉


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