Pesto Salmon is a taste of sunshine! Tender fillets of salmon slathered with pesto and baked alongside juicy roasted tomatoes that have been tossed in even more pesto, this healthy dinner recipe is exactly what to cook for dinner next week.
Pesto is one of those magic foods that can’t help but lift your mood.
A blend of herbs, Parmesan cheese, nuts, lemon, and olive oil, Basil Pesto sings with the promise of warm afternoons, late sunsets, and the kind of easy dinners I long to cook all summer long.
Pesto is versatile, vibrant, and anything you add it to comes to life (I actually have a whole list of simple, unique ways to use pesto sauce in my cookbook!).
Today, we’re using it to make baked fish with pesto, a healthy salmon recipe that anyone can make.
Like my Baked Salmon in Foil, the salmon is tender and flaky, and not at all dry or fishy.
- Since pesto is made with olive oil, it helps to keep the salmon ultra moist.
- The lively basil and nutty Parmesan in pesto give the salmon vibrancy.
- To turn this basil baked salmon into a one-pan meal, I took a page from my Garlic Salmon with Lemon Butter and roasted vegetables alongside the fish.
How to Make The Best Pesto Salmon
This recipe’s ingredient list is short, one of the reasons I adore it for easy weeknight dinners that still taste special enough to serve to guests.
As with any recipe that uses few ingredients, the quality of the ingredients themselves is paramount. Don’t skimp.
- Salmon. Rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins, salmon is a healthy choice. When selecting salmon fillets, I recommend looking for wild-caught varieties, as they tend to be leaner and contain more minerals. Make sure the fillets you select are free of spots and bruising and do not smell “fishy”.
Wild about salmon? Be sure to check out our full collection of salmon recipes.
- Pesto. The flavor star! Store-bought pestos vary wildly in quality. The best ones taste fresh and peppy; lower quality ones are bland, flat, and will not give you the results you are seeking.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Once roasted, these juicy, little tomatoes burst with fantastic sweetness and concentrated flavor.
- Red Onion. Becomes deliciously caramelized and slightly sweet once roasted.
- Lemon Juice. Adds brightness, acidity, and makes the pesto pop.
- Fresh Basil. Basil enhances the pesto flavor and brings a welcome touch of freshness.
- Rinse and drain the tomatoes, then toss with the onion, pesto, salt, and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, then stir. Bake for 10 more minutes.
- Season the salmon and spread pesto over the top of each fillet to evenly cover the flesh.
- Make sure each fillet is fully covered in pesto!
- Place the salmon fillets in the middle of the baking sheet with the vegetables. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes.
- Finish with salt, lemon juice (add lemon zest for even more zip), and basil. DIG IN!
What to Serve with Pesto Salmon
Thanks to the vegetables that cook along with this baked pesto salmon recipe, you can easily serve it as a stand-alone main course. If you’d like to bulk it up more, here are some ideas:
- Salad. A light and healthy salad like Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons would pair wonderfully with this pesto salmon.
- Pasta. Serve the salmon and veggies over a bed of noodles: Quick Garlic Pasta with Olive Oil and Parmesan or Zucchini Pasta are two yummy choices.
- Vegetables. Add more veggies to your meal by serving a side of Sauteed Carrots, Grilled Broccoli, or Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts with this salmon.
Serve pesto salmon with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Noir.
- To Store. Refrigerate salmon and vegetables in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheet. I use these almost daily.
- Citrus Juicer. The easiest way to juice a lime or lemon.
- Instant Read Thermometer. A foolproof way to ensure your salmon is cooked through.
Pesto, presto! Save this recipe and make it all summer long…or anytime you are craving a taste of sunshine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your jar of pesto need not go to waste! Try pesto spread on a sandwich, as a salad dressing, scrambled into eggs, or as a marinade for Grilled Chicken Skewers.
An open jar of pesto can last several weeks in the refrigerator. Since air causes pesto to taste less fresh, keep pesto in a small jar, press a sheet of plastic wrap against the pesto’s surface, then tightly secure the lid.
In addition to the vegetables and noodles suggested above, you can also serve pesto salmon with orzo, farro or another grain. Or try it with cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets skin on
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided, plus additional for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
- 6 tablespoons prepared basil pesto divided
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes left whole
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice for serving
- Chopped fresh basil optional for serving
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
- Place the cherry tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons pesto, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat, then spread into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the tomatoes and onion for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and with a spatula, stir them around a little to promote even cooking, then return to the oven for 10 additional minutes.
- Meanwhile, pat the salmon fillets dry. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon of the remaining pesto over each fillet.
- Rub the pesto on with your fingers or the back of a small spoon as needed. Make sure each fillet is completely covered in pesto.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven and move the tomatoes and onions to the outsides to make space for the salmon in the center. Arrange the salmon fillets down the center of the baking sheet, skin-side down.
- Return the pan to the oven and bake the pesto salmon until the fish flakes easily with a fork and reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, about 16 to 20 minutes.*
- Sprinkle the salmon with a pinch of additional kosher salt and squeeze lemon over the top. Top with fresh basil as desired. Enjoy!
- *The cooking time will vary based upon the thickness of your salmon. Thicker (2-inch-plus) slices will need several extra minutes, while thinner slices may cook more quickly.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate salmon and vegetables in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
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