November 10, 2011

Roasted Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

My whole family likes salmon so we end up eating it at least once every week or two. I have a handful of go-to salmon recipes. But eventually I fall into a salmon rut.

That’s when I like to take some inspiration from the season. In my neighborhood it’s pumpkin season. Everyone seems to have gone pumpkin-crazy this year. Or maybe I should say Jack O’ Lantern crazy. 

Jack O’ Lanterns mean pumpkin seeds. So what to do with all of them? Pesto may not be the most obvious choice. But it’s a good one.

I lightly toasted my pumpkin seeds (purchased in a store, not scooped out of a pumpkin, I admit), to bring out their full flavor. I used a little basil. But most of the green came from baby spinach. Garlic and olive oil, as usual, but no cheese.

The pesto was delicious, a little earthier and heartier than the usual summer basil pesto. But really nice with roasted salmon. And just right for pumpkin season.

Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet for about 10 minutes, until they begin to brown and become fragrant.

Combine the toasted pumpkin seeds, basil, spinach, and garlic in a food processor. 

Pulse together until everything is finely minced. Add some salt and pepper.

With the processor running, add lime juice and olive oil. Add water until your pesto reaches a consistency you like.

For the salmon, rinse fillets and pat them dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I usually add some Cajun seasoning too, for more flavor. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. Sixteen minutes produces salmon that’s done to about medium. My husband prefers 18 minutes, at which point the salmon is just opaque all the way through. Serve the salmon with the pumpkin seed pesto and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Inspired by a recipe in Bon Appetit

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

1.      Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.      Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add pumpkin seeds; sauté until beginning to brown and become fragrant about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3.      Pulse pumpkin seeds, baby spinach, basil leaves, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 cup oil, then 1/4 cup water, blending until coarse purée forms. Season pesto to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.

4.      Put salmon filets in a baking pan. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper and Cajun or other seasoning if desired. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

5.      Roast salmon for 16 to 18 minutes, until done to your liking.

6.      Place fillets on plates. Spoon pesto over. Garnish with remaining pumpkin seeds. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4

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