Grilled salmon recipe with pistachios, lemon and pesto

Grilled salmon recipe with pistachios, lemon and pesto

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by Anne Maloney

When grilling fish, firm, high-fat salmon may be the easiest to work with. The fish pairs well with summer produce, too. This pesto can also be used on grilled or roasted mahi mahi and swordfish steaks, as well as vegetables. To prevent sticking, make sure your grill grates are as clean as possible.

Cooking time for salmon will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets and your preferences. Most fish cook in about 10 minutes per 1 inch of thickness, so if you want your salmon rare or well-cooked, adjust the cooking time.

If you prefer to cook salmon in a pan: Place a grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and heat until a drop of water sizzles when it touches the surface. Add the fillets, skin side up, and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until salmon looks almost done, 2 to 4 minutes for medium doneness.

move ahead: Pesto can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.

storage: Refrigerate fish and pesto separately: fish for up to 2 days; Pesto for up to 3 days.



Time icon

Total: 30 minutesIn addition to the time required to preheat the grill

  1. Step 1

    Take the salmon out of the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before cooking.

  2. Step 2

    Heat grill to medium to high temperature, about 400 degrees. If grilling over charcoal, use a grill thermometer or use the hand method: If you can hold your hand 4 inches from the grill for about 5 seconds, the grill should be hot enough.

  3. Step 3

    While the grill is heating, in a food processor or blender, combine the basil, olive oil, pistachios, lemon juice, parsley, and garlic and process until smooth.

  4. Step 4

    Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the Parmesan cheese and lemon peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Step 5

    Grease each salmon fillet with vegetable oil on all sides and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

  6. Step 6

    Place the salmon pieces on the grill, meat side down, at a diagonal. This position will make it easier to flip the fish. Close the lid and let the salmon cook for about 5 minutes.

  7. Step 7

    Using tongs or a spatula, remove the fish from the grill grates. If it doesn’t budge, wait 20 seconds longer, or as needed. Once the fish comes off the grill easily, turn it skin-side down and cook until the fish is opaque and flakes with the tines of a fork, about 3 more minutes. You should see a slightly darker center for medium rare (see key note).

  8. Step 8

    Transfer the fish to a plate – the skin may slip off easily and remain on the grill. If it doesn’t, you can either leave it on the slats or shake it off before painting.

  9. Step 9

    Place the salmon on serving plates, spread the pesto over it, garnish with basil leaves and chopped pistachios, if using, and serve with a lemon slice on the side.

Nutritional facts

Per serving (1 filet and 1/4 cup pesto)

  • Calories


  • fat

    47 grams

  • Saturated fat

    7 g

  • Carbohydrates


  • sodium

    159 mg

  • Cholesterol

    40 mg

  • protein

    20 gm

  • Fiber

    1 g

  • sugar

    1 g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this product. It should not be a substitute for the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from For the Love of Seafood by Carista Bennett (Countryman Press, 2023).

Previously checked Anne Maloney.

Posted on June 20, 2023

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