Wild Salmon Fillets With Basil Pesto & Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

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In the past year, I have tried to incorporate wild salmon into our dinner menus at least once a week. As well as being delicious tasting, wild salmon is extremely good for you as well. Salmon is a good source of protein that is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, as well as being a good source of vitamins A, B6, E, D, & B and such minerals as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. Since wild salmon can be expensive, we buy a huge big fillet at our local discount grocery store, then cut it into individual 6 to 7 ounce fillets we freeze. When properly cooked, salmon is mild tasting, moist and flaky in texture. It is in fact better to have salmon a little underdone rather than fully cooked to ensure it remains moist. One of my favorite methods for cooking fish fillets is to lightly bread them, sear them on one side in a frying pan, then finish cooking them in a very hot oven. The light breading adds a crispy golden crust that helps to keep the fish very moist inside. If your salmon fillets have the skin on them, it is easiest to cook them that way as the skin will simply peel off after they are cooked.

I like to prepare a number of different toppings for my salmon, including tropical fruit salsas, light citrus sauces, or as shown in this recipe with a chunky pesto spread and served with a scoop of sweet dressed cherry tomatoes. In place of the salmon, this topping also works well on swordfish, halibut or grouper fillets. You could even serve this topping on breaded chicken cutlets instead of fish if you preferred. You will have extra pesto sauce leftover that you can use in the future. I make this pesto in my mini Cuisinart food processor/chopper as it keeps the pesto slightly chunky which works well as a spread.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Wild Salmon Fillets With Pesto & Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 (6 to 7 Ounce) Wild Salmon Fillets
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
Chuncky Pesto:
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts
  • 1 Large Garlic Cloves
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cherry Tomato Topping:

  • 3 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Directions:

  1. Rub the salmon with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl, then dredge the fillets in the crumbs, using your fingertips to help the crumbs adhere to the fish.
  3. Refrigerate salmon fillets until ready to use.
  4. Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until chopped.
  5. Begin to pour in the olive oil slowly, pulsing frequently until you have a thick pesto sauce.
  6. In a small bowl, toss together the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, then set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  8. In an oven-proof frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat until lightly smoking, then place the fillets in the pan.
  9. Sear the fillets until golden brown on one side, then carefully turn the fillets over and place the pan in the preheated oven.
  10. Cook the fillets until medium, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  11. Place the salmon fillets on individual plates, then spread a heaping tablespoon of pesto on top of each.
  12. Spoon the tomatoes divided equally over the salmon fillets and serve immediately with your choice of side dish