Healthy fats: grilled salmon with walnut arugula pesto

Arugula pesto 1

One of our sweet friends has just had a little boy!

To welcome him and help out his mom and dad (and mom’s parents who came in from Scotland), I made them some food.

There’s this ingenious website called Food Tidings that they used to help organize their friends providing meals.  It’s an online calendar where you can sign up to bring food to friends in need of meal support due to an injury, a death in the family, a new baby, or awful cooking skills.

I don’t know too much about what new mamas need (besides sleep), but I figured that just like the rest of us, they need some healthy fats, especially if they’re in the business of making healthy fats themselves for a hungry baby!

It seemed that salmon, walnuts and olive oil were in order.

♫ Suggested listening: a song about fat. And mamas. ♫

Click to listen: Herbie Hancock – “Fat Mama”

This recipe sounds fancy, right?  It does.  It sounds very impressive.  I can assure you though that it is not at all difficult to make.

This recipe comes from Fine Cooking by way of the Bitten Word.


  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh arugula (2-1/2 oz.)
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (about 1/2 oz.)
  • Optional: 3 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I omit this when I make it for myself, but I will tell you that it definitely is delicious.  Incidentally, Pecorino Romano tastes just as good here and is way cheaper)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for the grill pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 6- to 8-oz. skinless salmon fillets
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Toast the walnuts in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 5 minutes.  Let cool slightly on a plate, about 3 minutes, and then transfer to a food processor. Add the arugula, basil, cheese if using, and garlic and process until the mixture is very finely chopped, about 1 minute. With the motor running (unless using a mini-processor like me), slowly add 4 Tbs. of the oil until well combined. If you like, add 1 tbs. water to thin the pesto. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt.  Mmm.

Arugula walnut pesto 2
Yep, that’s a mini food processor.

Heat a lightly-oiled grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub the salmon fillets all over with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Sprinkle all over with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Put the fillets on the grill pan, skinned side up, and cook until well marked, about 5 minutes.

Making grill marks, y'all
Making grill marks, y’all

Flip and continue to cook until opaque in the center, about 5 minutes more. Serve with the pesto.

I didn’t photograph the finished product; I transported it to its destination in its component parts.  Next time I make it, I’ll take my own photo.  In the meantime, enjoy this one: if all goes well, it will look kind of like this, plus or minus grill mark perfection.

from Fine Cooking
from Fine Cooking

3 thoughts on “Healthy fats: grilled salmon with walnut arugula pesto

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