This pesto salmon with tomatoes is creamy, easy, and delicious. I make it in one pan and it comes together in less than 30 minutes--it's the perfect healthy weeknight meal. You can serve it on its own, over cauliflower rice or white rice, or with your favorite noodles to make pesto salmon pasta. The salmon has the perfect sear, the basil pesto keeps it fresh, the tomatoes add the perfect level of acidity and sweetness, and the roasted pecans add some nice crunch. It's kind of like Costco pesto salmon, except way way better.
Here's what you need to make this pesto salmon.
Ingredients for the salmon:
- Salmon. We always use wild-caught salmon, but you can use whatever you normally buy. We love fresh fish but understand that buying it isn't always realistic or cost-effective. Frozen salmon works perfectly well in this recipe too. Costco is a great place to buy fresh or frozen salmon at a good price. If you don't like salmon, try this recipe with chicken.
- Grape or cherry tomatoes. Any variety works, but the sweeter the better!
- Pecans. We buy big bags of raw pecans at Costco and eat them on everything (I've even been known to eat them raw with cheese), but you can buy them anywhere. We use raw pecan halves and then chop them up after we roast them.
- Heavy cream. A little goes a long way to make this dish creamy and indulgent.
- Romano or parmesan cheese. We like to grate it ourselves, but you can buy pre-grated if that's easiest for you.
- Other ingredients: cooking oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and lemon (or lemon juice)
Ingredients for the pesto:
Note: if you don't want to make your own pesto, you can use store-bought and skip the ingredients below. Costco pesto is a great option. I also like the Trader Joe's kale pesto a lot.
- Spinach. I hide this in the pesto because (a) it's healthy and (b) that way I can hoard more of my basil for later.
- Fresh basil. Yes, you have to use fresh...dried will not work here.
- Mixed nut butter or almond butter. I use nut butter in my pesto instead of whole pine nuts. I always have nut butter on hand, so I don't have to buy something special, plus pine nuts are so expensive and just not worth it to me. We get the mixed nut butter at Costco, but Trader Joe's also has their own version. Almond butter is also great.
- Other ingredients: olive oil, garlic, lemon (or lemon juice), black pepper, salt, and crushed red pepper
- Food processor or blender
- Cast-iron or non-stick pan
How to make pesto salmon.
This pesto salmon is made in one pan and comes together in less than 30 minutes. It's SO easy, and you can opt for store-bought pesto if you're in a hurry.
- Prepare the salmon and pecans.
I always remove my salmon from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature first. If you opt for frozen salmon, let it defrost. Then roast your pecans (or skip this step if you buy pre-roasted pecans). I like to use my air fryer--I just set it to 400 degrees and roast them for 3-5 minutes, or until they look slightly toasted. You can also use the oven--about 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees should do the trick. When they're done roasting, I like to chop them into smaller pieces.
- Make the pesto.
This step is simple. Just combine all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you're using store-bought pesto, you can skip this step.
- Cook the salmon.
Add avocado (or vegetable) oil to a large cast-iron or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel, and sprinkle salt and pepper over each fillet. Then put the fillets in the hot pan skin-side down and let them cook, undisturbed, until the color of the filets has changed from dark pink to a more pale color about ¾ of the way up the sides, about 3-5 minutes. Then flip the salmon and let it cook another 1-2 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan and let it rest on a plate.
- Cook the tomatoes and garlic, then make the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper to the same pan that the salmon cooked in. Let the tomatoes cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to burst, about 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring constantly, then add the pesto, cream, and parmesan cheese. Let the mixture thicken for a couple of minutes.
- Add in the salmon.
Remove the skin from the salmon, then add it back to the pan. Top the salmon with the roasted pecans and the juice from half a lemon, then serve!
This pesto sauce would pair great with....
- Cauliflower rice
- White or brown rice
- Over pasta. This would make a great salmon pesto pasta--just add your favorite pasta to the sauce.
- ...by itself!
Pesto Salmon with Tomatoes: FAQs
It is! It contains no cheese or processed ingredients, plus it's loaded with spinach and healthy nuts. It's way better for you than the processed stuff. It also happens to be vegan, although this salmon recipe isn't. If you want to use it for other recipes, check out the stand-alone recipe here.
Of course! Using store-bought pesto is a great way to cut out some prep-time. This pesto recipe makes about half a cup, so just use half a cup of your favorite store-bought brand. We really like Costco pesto or Trader Joe's kale pesto.
Of course! This recipe would be great with chicken (or even shrimp!). You can follow the same steps, but the chicken will take longer to cook than the salmon. Just make sure you cook it to 165 degrees. We have a great pan-seared chicken breast recipe here that would be great for this. You may also have to wipe your pan clean between steps, as chicken tends to leave behind more burnt bits than salmon.
Gloria T. says
Absolutely LOVED this dish! It was fairly simply and really enjoyed not having buy pine nuts for the Pesto. Can't wait to make this again for friends and family!
Amy P. says
I find it hard to use all my fresh produce before it goes bad so I love how this recipe incorporates all the ingredients I already have on hand. There's no need to buy new ingredients I'll only use once. So simple, quick, and delicious!
Amy P. says
I find it hard to use all my fresh produce before it goes bad so I love how this recipe incorporates all the ingredients I already have on hand. There’s no need to buy new ingredients I’ll only use once. So simple, quick, and delicious!