Salmon Loves Pesto

I’m always looking for new (read: easy) ways to cook fish.  Tim and I ate at a restaurant a while back – it was at least a year ago, but probably more – and I had salmon that had pesto stuffed in it.  I don’t remember anything else about the meal – not the side dishes, not if there was any sauce with the fish, not what Tim had, not even what restaurant it was, but I do remember the pesto stuffed salmon.

This really is an easy way to dress up salmon.  It makes it seem all fancy and special, as it should because fresh salmon isn’t cheap nowadays.  It’s worth it though, for the health benefits.  It’s chock full of Omega-3s, and did you know that 4 ounces of salmon contains a whole day’s worth of Vitamin D?  Crazy!  I do prefer to use fresh salmon to frozen because it doesn’t taste nearly as fishy.  Oh, and wild salmon is always a better choice than farmed because of the health benefits, potential contamination, and environmental effects.  If you want to learn more about this, check out this interesting article.

Anyway, all you do here is cut a slit in the salmon to filet it open like a book, put some pesto in, fold it back over, season with lemon juice, olive oil, and grill seasoning (I know this is “steak” seasoning, but it works here too because it’s got everything in it you could possibly want – salt, pepper, garlic, onion, red pepper, etc.  It’s a one stop shop.), and bake it.  You can make your own pesto or use store bought. I’m a fan of making my own pesto and I always have some in the freezer, so that’s what I used.  Check out my easy basil pesto recipe here!

Pesto Stuffed Salmon


  • One center cut salmon filet for every person
  • 1-2 tablespoons pesto for every salmon filet
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice for every filet
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • grill seasoning for sprinkling (like Montreal Steak Seasoning)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Lay the salmon on a cutting board.  Lay your hand flat on top of the filet and with a sharp knife, cut into the side of the salmon to filet it open like a book.  Do not cut all of the way through.  Repeat with remaining salmon pieces.

Spread 1-2 Tablespoons of pesto on the bottom of the opened salmon filet and “close” it by putting the top flap back into place.

Over the top of the salmon, pour about one tablespoon of lemon juice.  (This step is optional, but I really love the little bit of subtle lemon taste with the salmon and pesto.)  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top of the fish and then season to taste with grill seasoning.

Lay a baking rack inside a baking sheet and put the filets on top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is no longer pink inside. (The cooking time may vary depending on how thick the salmon is, so just keep an eye on it.)

21 thoughts on “Salmon Loves Pesto

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