Pan Seared Salmon

This is my absolute favorite, bar none, way to prepare salmon fillet.  I prefer the freshness of a home made pesto, but I bet just adding fresh lemon juice to a store-bought one will liven it up tremendously.

Salmon with Lemon Basil Pesto

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Basil Pesto


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaf, packed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (I use a generous pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces salmon fillets (2, 6-oz each)
  • cooking spray


Heat a dry skillet, over medium heat, and lightly toast pine nuts (gently toss and shake pan occasionally); then place in a food processor.  To the food processor, add basil and garlic; pulse just to combine.  With processor running, drizzle in olive oil, and process, scraping down sides once or twice with a rubber spatula, to desired consistency (I like it sort of chunky).  Add in Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste; pulse to combine; set aside.

Wipe the salmon dry with paper towels (to allow a nice sear), then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the skillet, over medium-high heat, then spray with cooking spray.  Cook salmon about 4 minutes per side or to desired doneness (I like it a little pinkish in the center since it will continue cooking a little when removed from the pan).  Serve salmon with pesto spooned over top.

Can also be served at room temperature.