Pesto-Crusted Salmon

Pesto-Crusted Salmon

. 3 min read

Pesto-Crusted Salmon is very easy to make. If you make the pesto ahead of time, it’s a snap to make this dinner. Serve with salad or vegetables. It would also go great on a bed of pasta or with a side of risotto.

Pesto is one of my very favorite things. Pesto pizza, pesto pasta. Of course, we’re not eating pasta these days since we’re doing GAPS. In lieu of the pasta, how about something a little more nutrient dense? Like pesto-crusted salmon!


I make pesto every summer. It’s a tradition passed down to me by my mother, who has been growing her own basil and making pesto since the seventies (a decade before it was in vogue in the eighties).

I simply can’t live without basil growing in my garden. I’ve tried. It sucks. Life is much better with fresh basil in the summertime (heck, here in Southern California, we can grow it year-round). If you can’t grow it, pick it up at your local farmer’s market.

Pesto-Crusted Salmon

If you have a lot of basil on hand, you can double the recipe for pesto so you will have leftovers. There are so many yummy things to do with leftover pesto. For example, I love pesto on shrimp. And pesto goes great as a spread on a sandwich. With tomato and cheese — and leftover chicken or roast duck.


Pesto-Crusted Salmon

Equipment Needed:

Food processor or blender
Rubber spatula


Salmon fillets, wild-caught
Fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried (4 packed cups)
Olive oil (1/2 cup) — use real olive oil from a grower you trust
Raw pine nuts (1/3 cup) — where to buy nuts
Garlic cloves (1/3 cup)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
Sea salt (1 tsp)


Do Ahead:

It’s important to soak and dry the nuts — to remove the enzyme inhibitors.

1. Soak raw pine nuts in filtered water (2 cups of nuts in a quart mason jar, filled with filtered water and 1 TBS salt) overnight.
2. Drain and dry for several hours in a dehydrator (or in your oven on the lowest setting with the door ajar).
3. Defrost the salmon if it is frozen. Best to do this the night before in the fridge.

The Day Of:

1. Preheat the oven to broil.
2. Cut about 1/2 a cup’s worth of the Parmesan cheese into chunks and toss it into the food processor. (If you end up with a little more than 1/2 of a cup, set it aside — you can sprinkle it on top of the dish upon serving.) Process until coarsely chopped.
3. Add the garlic cloves. Process until the garlic is finely chopped.
4. Add the basil, the olive oil, the pine nuts, and the sea salt. Process until it’s got a good sauce-like consistency.
5. Take your salmon fillets out of the fridge and put them in an oven-safe baking dish or cookie sheet (I use a rimmed cookie sheet with a Silpat).
6. Coat each side of the fillets with pesto.
7. Stick in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
8. Remove from oven, turn over, and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
9. Save the leftover pesto for other uses. Pour into a storage container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Store in the fridge. You can freeze pesto, too (just freezer prior to adding the cheese).

That’s it! You can serve with a little extra Parmesan if you like.

The pesto can be made ahead as well.