Seared Salmon with Toasted Almond Pesto

Seared Salmon with Toasted Almond Pesto

Spring has come to Southern California. The sunshine is finally starting to peek through those long-lingering winter clouds. Flowers are starting to bloom and the hummingbirds are returning to my yard. It seems fitting, with Passover being a springtime celebration, that our Seder table should include some fresh, seasonal flavors. Case in point, this lovely salmon dish. I’ve paired crispy pan-seared salmon fillets with fresh almond basil pesto sauce. Though dairy-free, the pesto is creamy thanks to toasted sliced almonds and a slow emulsion in the food processor. A touch of Meyer lemon juice brightens the pesto and adds a mild sweetness. A few toasted almonds are scattered on the top for flavor and crunch. It’s a beautiful blend of fresh, seasonal flavors– a simple, elegant entree option for your Seder table.

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Seared Salmon with Toasted Almond Pesto


  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, divided
  • 4 boneless skinless salmon fillets
  • 2 cups basil leaves (stems removed), tightly packed
  • 2 tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

You will also need

  • Food processor, small skillet, large oven-safe nonstick skillet
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: 4
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread out the sliced almonds in a small skillet in an even layer. Heat the almonds over medium, stirring frequently, till they became lightly toasted and aromatic. This will take a few minutes. Careful, they can go from toasted to burned very quickly. As soon as they are ready, pour them out of the skillet and into a cool bowl to stop browning. Reserve.
  • Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
  • In a skillet, heat olive oil over high heat till hot and just shy of smoking. Add the fillets to the skillet, top side down. Sear them on one side on high heat for 2-3 minutes till a golden brown crust forms on the meat.
  • Without flipping the salmon, transfer the skillet to the oven and let it cook for 5-10 more minutes to desired doneness. Thicker fillets may take longer.
  • While salmon is cooking, make almond pesto. Take 1/4 cup of the toasted almonds (reserve the rest) and pulse them in the processor till they are finely ground.
  • Add the basil leaves and process till they're finely chopped. Scrape the sides of the processor. Add the Meyer lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste-- I usually use about 1/2 tsp salt total in the pesto). Process again till all ingredients are chopped fine and well mixed.
  • Scrape the sides of the processor. Secure the lid and open the pouring spout. Turn the processor on and drizzle the olive oil in very slowly through the pouring spout. It should take 2-3 minutes to drizzle in all of the oil. As the oil emulsifies with the other ingredients, a creamy pesto will form.
  • Once the oil has been incorporated, scrape the sides and process for a few more seconds till the pesto mixture is smooth and creamy. Season the pesto with more salt to taste, if desired. Reserve.
  • Remove the seared salmon from the oven. Use an oven mitt, that skillet handle will be hot!
  • For each portion of salmon, spread 1 tbsp pesto in a circle on the plate. Place seared salmon fillet on top, crust side up. Top salmon fillet with another dollop of pesto and 1 tbsp toasted sliced almonds. Serve.

Comments (13)Post a Comment

  1. Hi Tori,
    I don’t have an overproof skillet. Can I sear the salmon in a pan then transfer it to a baking dish to finish it in the oven?
    Zissen Pesach to you!

    1. Alice- do you have a metal baking pan or baking sheet with a 1-inch lip? If yes, preheat the pan in the oven and transfer the salmon to the hot surface to avoid a temperature change. Make sure the pan is very well greased– in fact, it might be worthwhile to invest in a roll of nonstick aluminum foil and line the pan with that before preheating. The salmon can stick to any ungreased surface which can cause the fish to flake. Technically after the crust is formed it shouldn’t stick, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially where Pesach is concerned. :) Enjoy!

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This looks incredible – just a tip to everyone, go ahead and buy a huge salmon filet (Costco!), and put it on a soaked cedar plank on the grill for 20-24 minutes…..let your hubby handle this part! It frees you up to greet your guests, keeps smoke out of your kitchen, and is enough to feed a nice crowd. I do this every year for Passover…..this year, I can’t wait to smother it in this gorgeous pesto!

    1. how do u soak the cedar plank to grill the salmon on:-)i luv luv luv salmon hav heard of this method but never tried

  3. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    It looks tasty but in the picture, it appears the salmon was seared on the skin free side….is that brown crust from the oven? Did you broil it?

    1. I used boneless skinless, there was no skin side. However if you’re using skin on, sear the salmon face down in the pan on the skinless side of the fillet, skin side up, and finish it in the oven. The recipe instructions are very detailed and will help you to achieve the brown crust in the picture.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi. Very nice website. I can’t wait to try a few recipes that I book marked. I love great food. Thank you. 😉

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    i want to prepare the pesto and almonds today and serve tonight when my boyfriend gets home…is this okay? should i keep pesto in fridge? how long will it keep? thank you! looks great

    1. It will be okay, though it might lose some of that pretty bright green color and look a bit duller. That said, the flavor will be just fine. Keep it in the fridge and take it out about 30-45 minutes before you plan to use it so that it returns to room temp. Enjoy!

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