Ever have a dish that you can't stop thinking about long after the fact? For me, it's a Pesto Salmon that a friend dropped off after my daughter was born. It was to die for and is high on my list of things to make, so I wanted to share the love with you all on this Menu Monday during National Nutrition Month.
A simple way that will likely improve the quality of your diet is to cook more at home, and that has certainly been a silver lining of the Covid Pandemic for many this past year. As a Registered Dietitian, meal prep and cooking at home is a common topic of conversation with my patients. Regardless of tastes or goals, one common thing that participants are looking for is health-promoting food that is EASY to make. Enter Pesto Salmon. I often hear that people are intimidated by cooking fish and prefer to order it out. This would be a good recipe to add to your toolbox if that's your case.
Last spring, early in our quarantine, we planted a raised garden bed of different fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Our basil REALLY took off, and I froze a lot of it to add to sauces, but I was also on the kick of making homemade pesto using my food processor. Pesto recipes can vary a bit from an ingredient standpoint, and therefore nutritionally, but they generally include a pine nut or walnut, basil, olive oil, and other additions depending on the recipe like parmesan, garlic, spinach, or kale. Pesto is very versatile. It is a great addition to any protein, if you're not big on fish, or even coated on pasta as a sauce or on a sandwich as a condiment. It can also be a heart-healthy option especially when swapped for higher saturated fat, cream-based sauces or condiments like mayo. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings (3.5 ounces) of fish a week, especially fatty fish like Salmon. I hope you'll try this one out and let me know what you think!
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets or a large 1 1/2 pound fillet
- 4 cups of water
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons basil pesto (homemade is awesome, and store bought is totally acceptable, too)
- 1 tablespoon toasted and chopped pine nuts
- A few grates of lemon zest, for garnish
- DIRECTIONS: PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 325 F.
- Bake*: Rub the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Pat each piece of salmon dry and place it on the pan. Sprinkle the salmon with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. Spoon equal parts pesto over each salmon fillet. Cover pan with foil and bake the salmon for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil bake again for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness, until just tender. A 1-inch thick fillet should cook in about 15 minutes total.
- Sprinkle it with chopped pine nuts and a bit of lemon zest. Serve immediately. (Pro tip: Leftovers can be stored refrigerated for 3 to 4 days and makes a great chilled protein source on salad, so if you enjoy this, double the recipe next time to have a few meals leftover for you and your family)
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– Keeley Mezzancello, MS, RD, LDN, CHWC
Health Advisor, Registered Dietitian | Email Keeley