If you’re looking for a quick dinner that won’t lack in flavor, this kale arugula pesto salmon is it. Made with homemade pesto and baked for twenty minutes, it’s a quick and flavorful dinner recipe. Baking salmon in the oven is a quick way to make it and easy for someone who might not make salmon often!
When I was in college, I worked at a steakhouse that was on campus. I hadn’t worked in a restaurant before, I had only worked as a banquet server at a country club, but I quickly learned that my waitress job came with a few important perks. The steakhouse on campus was designed to be an extension of the classroom and therefore a learning experience for the students. We were educated in fine dining, both in proper etiquette as well as food choices. I actually really attribute a big part of my love for cooking and future food blogging self towards my experience working at the steakhouse.
One of the perks I mentioned was getting to try all the food. It was really important to the owners of the restaurant and the university for us to fully understand the food that we were serving so that we could properly explain it to the guests. There were quite a few things I didn’t muster up the courage to try, but one that I quickly took part in was our salmon. The quality of the salmon we served was so high that it could be served raw. This opened my eyes (and flavor palate) to salmon and it became my default order every time I went into the steakhouse to eat.
Fast forward a few years and while I no longer work on campus at the steakhouse, I still love salmon so much. Learning to cook it was a huge win for me so that we can have it at home and not just out at a restaurant! My mom made it all the time when we lived with her and one of the first times I cooked salmon in our new house, I randomly tried putting a heaping tablespoon of pesto on each filet just to see how it would taste.
The result? Quite amazing if you ask me. The pesto brought out a slight sweetness in the salmon, while the salmon enhanced the parmesan flavor in the pesto.
A few weeks later we had salmon again, but this time with my homemade kale arugula pesto. Whether you make your own pesto at home or use a store bought version, this salmon with kale arugula pesto definitely needs to be on your grocery list.
A few quick notes:
- Salmon can be cooked to different temperatures, just like a steak can. Most likely, if you’ve ever ordered it at a restaurant, you’ve been served it well done. Unless you are buying extremely high quality salmon, I’d stick with medium well to well done (or an internal temperature of 125 degrees.)
- Salmon needs to rest, once again like steaks! It’s best to pull your salmon out of the oven when it’s almost done, cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before enjoying.
- I highly recommend fresh salmon, not farm raised, however fresh salmon will almost always be more expensive and sometimes regular grocery stores don’t have it. But, don’t get the kind in the frozen section. Think of this as a treat and indulge in the higher quality selection directly from the butcher! Stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s will have a variety of qualities to choose from. Or you can just choose whichever grocery store near you has the best quality butcher. Anything from the meat section (not a frozen packaged version) will be preferable to frozen.
- There’s no need to remove the skin from the salmon filet before cooking, but the butcher should remove most of the scales for you. You can eat the skin once cooked, or just eat the salmon flesh that will easily come off the skin.
- 2 lbs salmon
- ½ cup of kale arugula pesto or basil walnut pesto
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place salmon in dish.
- Spread pesto across salmon filet.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145º.
- Remove salmon from oven and cover with foil.
- Let salmon rest for 10 minutes before serving.
You can cook the salmon whole or fileted. Cooking time may vary.
Substitute jarred pesto or for a nut free version, try this four ingredient nut free pesto.