Pistachio & Broccoli Pesto-Crusted Salmon

For a long time, I’ve been afraid to cook fish. It dries out so easily and so quickly. But it’s so healthy and so delicious! Oh, the dilemma. In the past, I would just make Bobby cook our fish dinners. As a result, I only cooked fish one other time before tonight. I’ll let you have one guess as to how my first foray with fish turned out… yeah, that’s right… DRY and gross.

Today, I was finally ready to give fish another try. I found this recipe for Pistachio & Broccoli Pesto-Crusted Salmon featured in the January 2013 issue of Shape magazine. I was drawn to this recipe for two reasons: 1) I thought I would enjoy the flavors; and 2) it looked easy to make. After having prepared this dish, I am happy to report that it was both simple and tasty.

I’m sorry to say that I could not easily find the recipe on the Shape website. However, if you are interested, it is from Jessica Goldman Foung’s new book, Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook (find the cookbook here on Amazon.com).

Here’s the recipe (adapted from original):

  • 3/4 cup unsalted pistachios, removed from shells
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (depending on how much you like garlic)
  • 2/3 cup broccoli florets, stems trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nut or walnuts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • (4) 3-to-4 ounce salmon filets (or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you want chicken)
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Put the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Put the garlic, broccoli, basil, olive oil, pine nuts/walnuts, salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon water in the food processor and pulse until it becomes a thick, chunky puree. Add more water if necessary.
  4. Place the salmon fillets on the parchment paper, skin-side down. Using a spoon or spatula, evenly distribute the pesto over the fillets. Top each with a quarter of the crushed pistachios. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the salmon is just pink. (Bake for 25 minutes if you chose to make chicken.)
  5. Squeeze the lemon wedges over top of the salmon fillets.

The original recipe calls for pine nuts, but they are expensive, and I already had walnuts in the pantry so I used them instead. You could also try sunflower seeds if you have those on hand.

The recipe also called for only one garlic clove, but I added two small ones and one large one to the pesto. I did not think the garlic was too overpowering, and neither did Bobby.

I added salt and pepper to the pesto, even though the original recipe did not call for either one. The recipe is from a book focused on lowering your sodium intake so if that is your goal, omit the salt. I would suggest adding pepper regardless.

Rather than overcook the salmon, I checked it at eight minutes to see how close it was to being done. It needed more time so Bobby suggested cooking for three more minutes. In retrospect, I should have cooked it a minute or so more because the filets were rather thick. But it is better to undercook than overcook salmon!

Unlike the original recipe, I finished by squeezing fresh lemon over the salmon filets because I thought they could use a bit of brightness.

In conclusion, this recipe was a cinch to prepare and quite tasty for how healthy it is. Lots of protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants here.

Enjoy!

Pistachio & Broccoli Pesto-Crusted Salmon

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