This is such a perfectly light & healthy, yet filling and delicious dish. Salmon seared in lemon and olive oil, and drizzled with bright, punchy arugula pesto. It’s a perfect for any summer menu, or a year round option when you’re looking for a lighter dinner option.
One of the biggest nutrition hacks I’ve tried to implement in my meal planning and daily eating habits is adding as much GREEN as I can to any plate. Green veggies, leafy greens, even fresh herbs. It’s another way for me to boost the nutritional value of every meal, with the added bonus of brightening up almost any dish with flavors, textures and color.
This Seared Salmon with Arugula Pesto is no exception. The bright pepper arugula is the star of this dish. It gets blended together with buttery walnuts, punchy parmesan cheese, garlic, zesty lemon and olive oil to create a fresh and flavorful, yet luscious sauce to smother over juicy, pan seared salmon fillets.
What I love most about this dish is that it just makes me feel good after eating it. It tastes healthy and fresh, and it’s filling, while not leaving me feeling overly stuffed afterwards. Usually that just means I have room for another glass of wine or some (healthy-ish) dessert…but those things are important too so I’m not complaining. 😛
All you need is a food processor and a skillet for this easy and delicious dish. Let’s get cooking!
Pulsed to Perfection
The first thing you want to do when making this recipe is prep the pesto. I always love to make my sauces before moving on to the rest of a dish. That gives all the flavors time to blend together and get to know each other.
For this simple, flavorful pesto, add a big bunch of fresh arugula to a food processor. Toss in some walnuts, grated parmesan, a clove of garlic and the juice of half a lemon. Season it generously with salt and pepper and then start pulsing.
As you’re blending the pesto together, stream in olive oil until it all reaches a smooth and creamy texture. You’ll probably want to scrape down the sides of your food processor at least once during blending to make sure you’re not leaving any chunks behind. Once you’ve got that perfect pesto consistency, pour it into a bowl and set aside (preferably in the fridge) and let the flavors get to work while you prep the salmon.
Searing the Salmon
Get a skillet warming up over medium-high heat while you get your salmon fillets ready to go. You can use salmon with or without the skin for this recipe, whatever you choose. Your cooking time will probably be a few minutes longer if you’re using skin-on salmon, just to achieve that crispy skin texture.
Drizzle some olive oil, salt and pepper over your salmon fillets and rub it all in until all the pieces are coated on both sides. Then drop the pieces in the hot pan, skin side down first.
PRO TIP: If you’re using skin-on salmon, I recommend spraying your pan with some non-stick cooking spray before adding your salmon. This will help keep the skin from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
The salmon will cook pretty quickly, only needing about 4-5 minutes per side. Once you flip your salmon over, squeeze a lemon over all the salmon pieces in the pan. This will add another layer of flavor to your dish overall, and my oh my, will your kitchen smell yummy.
Once your salmon fillets are light pink and looking flaky, remove them from the pan and serve them up with your creamy, green arugula pesto drizzled all over the top.
SERVING TIP: I love to lean in to the arugula theme when I make this dish. I usually serve it along side my Roasted Beet and Arugula salad. It could also work great with some roasted potatoes or veggies on the side.
So many uses for Arugula Pesto
Don’t let leftover sauce go to waste! Or just whip up a batch by itself. This pesto goes great with so many things, including:
- Salads — it would work great as a dressing for a chopped veggie salad, or even a pasta salad.
- Grilled chicken or steak — it almost works like a chimichurri sauce, adding a pop of freshness.
- Seafood tacos — a perfect salsa substitute over shrimp or fish.
- Pasta — toss this Arugula pesto into your next one-pan pasta creation to add great color and flavor. It works with veggie pasta, or any protein you want to throw in.
- Pizza — this pesto makes for a perfect base for an at-home pizza topped with mushrooms, sausage, spinach, or whatever else you want to pile on.
Let me know if you give this Seared Salmon with Arugula Pesto a try! I love to hear from you in the comments, or tag me on instagram @eat.think.live and let me see your creation! Plus, you can check out the rest of my recipes HERE.
Seared Salmon with Arugula Pesto
For the Arugula Pesto
- 1 Cup Arugula
- 1/4 Cup Walnuts
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
- About 1/3 Cup Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper To taste
For the Salmon
- 4 Salmon fillets
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper To taste
- 2 Tbsp Lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Make the Pesto
- Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor.
- Blend mixture, while streaming in olive oil, until it reaches the pesto texture you desire.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Make the Salmon
- Drizzle olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper over all the salmon fillets and rub to make sure they are all coated on both sides.
- Warm up a skillet over medium high heat.* Add the salmon (skin side down first) and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Once you’ve flipped your salmon over, squeeze the lemon juice all over the salmon in the pan.
- Remove salmon from pan once they are light pink and cooked through (about 8-10 minutes). Serve immediately with Arugula Pesto drizzled all over the top.