Mediterranean Lemon Pesto Salmon is an easy, healthy, low-carb meal served with simple vegetables. The pesto can be made days in advance and can be used in so many different dishes.

 

2 salmon filets on a white plate with pesto and lemon

The Mediterranean diet has become a popular diet in the past few years, but did you know it’s a regular diet and way of life for countries that border the Mediterranean like Italy, Spain, Greece?

 

If you’ve ever been to Italy you’ll notice that they don’t serve you a giant plate of food. It is more about eating in small amounts. A small plate of pasta and another dish with protein.  Instead of a large bowl of pasta with the protein added.

A closeup showing the vibrant green pesto on the salmon

Consisting of fresh ingredients, lean meats, herb and vegetables this way of eating has served them well for centuries and the people live long lives.

Nuts

For the pesto, I used roasted almonds (instead of pine nuts which is traditional) in this pesto as they are a healthy fat, vitamins, fiber and protein. If you want to not use any nuts at all you can leave them out or substitute sesame or sunflower seeds.

I also added lemon as a delicious complement to basil which give a subtle brightness to the pesto and lemon is always good with salmon. The rest of the recipe is what you would typically find in the Genovese part of Italy.

Olive oil is a big ingredient in the Mediterranean and is the best oil you can eat. It is heart healthy and is one of what they call ‘the good fats’.

Garlic

The pesto is the perfect garlic flavor balance, not too overpowering. If you like your pesto more garlicy, add another clove.

This is a great make ahead dish. You can make the pesto days in advance, cover with plastic wrap (put the wrap directly on top of the pesto to prevent it turning brown) put on a lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Zucchini and tomatoes in a white bowl

What to serve with pesto salmon?

I like to keep it simple and sauté zucchini seasoned with salt, pepper and dried basil. A few minutes before they’re done, I add cherry tomatoes just until they soften for a sweet bite.

 

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Yield: 2 servings

Mediterranean Lemon Pesto Salmon

Mediterranean pesto salmon served on a white platter garnished with lemon

Salmon filet is simply sautéed and topped with homemade lemon pesto sauce

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces (2 cups) fresh basil leaves * see note
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup almonds, roasted and unsalted ** see note
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup pecorino Romano cheese
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾-1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 salmon filets, 6 ounces each
  • Salt & ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. To a food processor add the basil, garlic, almonds, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano salt, lemon zest and juice. Pulse until the basil is chopped. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until it is the consistency you want, thick or saucy. Set aside.
  2. Season the salmon with  salt and pepper.
  3. To a large non-stick skillet add the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the salmon  skin-side up, flesh side down to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes, turn and cook for 2-3 more minutes until the salmon is firm to the touch. Remove the salmon from the pan and serve immediately topped with the pesto.

Notes

*If you can’t find roasted almonds, spread raw almonds onto a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes at 350°F/180°C.

**For an accurate measurement, tightly pack the leaves into a 1 cup measuring cup.

Nutrition Information

Yield

2

Serving Size

1 filet

Amount Per Serving Calories 433Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 97mgSodium 160mgCarbohydrates 1.2gFiber 0.2gSugar 0gProtein 35g