Thursday, January 31, 2008

Foil-Baked Salmon Recipe with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes

Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and TomatoesI'm learning new things all the time as a food blogger, and this week I learned that shiny aluminum foil can really make it challenging to get a good photo of lovely baked salmon with pesto and tomatoes! I actually made this twice (the sacrifices I make for my readers!) and these were the photos that came out best. I hope it looks appetizing, because this was truly drop dead delicious when I ate it! The recipe was adapted from Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times, where Bittman had used tomatoes and fresh basil to top salmon that was baked in foil. I didn't have any fresh basil but I had lots of frozen basil pesto, which I think might have even been an improvement on the original recipe.

Those of us who are food-obsessed people tend to think everyone knows about pesto, but I discovered in my school faculty room that some people aren't familiar with this classic Italian sauce. Variations of pesto abound (see some after the recipe, including pesto ideas from other bloggers) but classic pesto always has basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, all pureed together in a mortar and pestle or food processor. There are many different types of basil, and all need quite a bit of sun to grow well. I've been growing my own basil for years in the hot Utah summers, and freezing it to make soup and pasta sauce during the cold Utah winters. Now here I am writing about basil again for Weekend Herb Blogging #118, hosted by Claudia from Fool for Food.

Tear two sheets of foil big enough to wrap salmon, stack one piece of foil on top of the other, and drizzle about 2 tsp. olive oil in the center. Place two salmon filets on top of the olive oil.

Top each piece of salmon with about 2 tsp. basil pesto. Spread it around so the salmon is well covered by the pesto.

Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick, and arrange so they're covering the top of the salmon. (I got these tomatoes from Costco, which may annoy eat local fans. I do eat local tomatoes from the backyard all summer, but every once in a while I do buy tomatoes in the winter, but only when they have that tomato smell!)

Wrap salmon in foil, doubling over the seam and ends. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes. Then let sit a few minutes before carefully opening packet. Serve hot, and enjoy!

Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes
(Makes 2 servings, can be doubled but use separate foil packet for each two pieces of salmon. Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times.

Ingredients:
2 salmon filets, about 6 oz. each
2 tsp. olive oil (to grease foil)
about 4 tsp. basil pesto (can use pesto from a jar here with good results, although obviously homemade pesto is even better)
4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450 F. (I used my toaster oven.) Place a baking sheet in oven to heat while you prep the salmon.

Tear two pieces of foil, big enough to wrap salmon with some overlapping. Place foil pieces one on top of the other. Put about 2 tsp. olive oil in center of top piece of foil and lay salmon on top of oil.

Spread each piece of salmon with about 2 tsp. basil pesto. Arrange sliced tomatoes over pesto so they cover the top of the salmon.

Wrap salmon securely in foil, doubling over the seam and ends several times. Place salmon packet on heated baking sheet and cook 15 minutes.

Remove from oven after 15 minutes and let sit 2-3 minutes. Then open carefully and serve immediately, while salmon and tomatoes are hot.

Printer Friendly Recipe


South Beach Suggestions:
This is a wonderful meal for any phase of the South Beach Diet. Serve with a perfect green salad for phase one. For phase two or three, I would add something like Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi or Curried Rice and Red Lentils.

More Ideas from Kalyn for Cooking with Pesto:
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto or Spread
Baked Chicken Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese
Spinach and Basil Pesto
Sauteed Zucchini with Spinach and Basil Pesto
Asparagus with Basil Pesto
Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pesto

Pesto Variations from Other Blogs:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Basil Pesto from Lucullian Delights
Cilantro Pesto from Simply Recipes
How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother from 101 Cookbooks
Pasta with Sage-Walnut Pesto from The Inadvertent Gardener
Beet Pesto from A Veggie Venture
Strawberry Basil Pesto from Chocolate and Zucchini
Sicilian Nut Pesto and Pesto Russo from The Traveler's Lunchbox
Thai Basil Pesto Pasta from Cook and Eat
Parsley Pesto from Erin's Kitchen
Garlic Scape Pesto from What Geeks Eatcounter customizable free hit

76 comments:

  1. Lovely!! That's very much my kind of recipe :)

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  2. I normally like my salmon with a sweeter sauce, but this sounds really good. I'll have to remember this the next time I decide to cook salmon.

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  3. Kalyn, I love salmon with pesto, I make it all the time, and with homemade pesto it's even better! It intensely flavors the salmon so well! MmmmI can taste it now

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  4. Ah, the challenges of photographing foil. Well, it looks fab. I love fish (or chicken) roasted in foil packets. And with tomato and pesto? Fuggeddaboudit.

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  5. I had the shiny foil issue the other day when trying to photograph potato packets :-) I made do, but what a pain.

    I'm excited about making your salmon dish -- I love pesto. Usually, I make a sweeter glaze for salmon, but I'm getting tired of it and have been looking for something new. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. The tomatoes heighten the dish, so in love with roasting them of late.

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  7. I wonder whether, to make this more photogenic, it could be baked in parchment instead of foil?

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  8. Awesome! Simple, easy and perfect. I love dishes like this!

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  9. Glad people like the sound of it. This was one of the best "easy" recipes I've made for a long time. It sounds like I'm not the only one who loves ultra easy recipes like this.

    Lydia, would you believe I've never even bought parchment paper. I think it might work though.

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  10. That salmon looks and sounds so good! I would imagine that the salmon is super moist and tender being baked/steamed in foil with the tomatoes and pesto.

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  11. Kalyn, this looks delicious! I love salmon and try to eat it often, but I usually prepare it the same way - baked with lemon and rosemary. I can't wait to try this recipe!

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  12. Those are lovely salmon, and sounds delicious as well.

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  13. Great colours Kalyn! This looks delicious. Also, Lydia's suggestion of using parchment paper is definitely a good one. I use it for baking fish all the time and it will certainly solve your light reflecting problem!

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  14. Pesto always makes me think of summer, this sounds great!

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  15. I love pesto and I just bought some salmon from Costco yesterday! I never thought of putting the two together. I am excited to try it!

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  16. Hurray for tomatoes! The pics turned out just fine!

    I went to bed thinking about tomatoes... and woke up to your pic!

    BTW I really love all the links you provide to related recipes...

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  17. All of my favorite things in one recipe! Thanks! And your photos look great!

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  18. Actually, I think your hero shots of the cooked fish look lovely, Kalyn. And the fish sounds wonderful! Can't wait to try this new approach. Even though I'm a big fan of fresh basil, I have to agree the pesto would be even better, with its nice garlic kick.

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  19. I think your photos came out great! And the recipe sounds really good too!

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  20. Aw, gee, you guys are so nice even when I post those photos that are a bit blindingly-shiny around the edges.

    Janelle, glad to hear you like the links. I'm hooked on finding them now, it's so much fun. (And easy to with the Food Blog Search - bottom of right sidebar if you haven't seen it before. Add it to your site if you're a blogger, it's really a lot of fun.)

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  21. I love baked fish - so easy, when you don't want to do anything too fancy, but still want to eat well and healthily. Thanks for sharing - might just borrow your idea for a midweek meal some time!

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  22. That looks wonderful! I'm going to do that on the barbecue next summer...when I get good tomatoes! (I don't even try in winter)

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  23. Katie, brilliant idea to do it on the barbecue. (This is why I love blogging so much. That thought hadn't even occurred to me.)

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  24. Oh goodness, I could eat salmon everyday...this looks sooooo good!

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  25. Kalyn you make me try so many new recipes :).
    This one sounds equally tasty.
    I would also add some lime juice just before serving to give it a fresh-invigorating taste. I know that tomatoes are also good at that job.

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  26. This sounds like a perfect low glycemic dinner! And your photo is beautfiful!

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  27. I have bookmarked your adaptation of the recipe Kalyn! I bet it would be delicious on the BBQ as well!!!

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  28. I made this for dinner yesterday, together with a big salad and it was excellent! Can't wait to try it on the BBQ. Definitely a "keeper"! It would also work well with Steelhead Trout. JD :-)

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  29. That looks just perfect. I honestly can't think of anything more delicious!

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  30. I eat salmon at least once a week. I love the pesto and tomato idea, and I'm sure it tasted fantastic. I love salmon with crushed tomatoes and oregano, so I'm sure your recipe will be amazing (since pesto is slightly more exciting than plain oregano).

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  31. Wow. This looks fantastic. I LOVE salmon and am particularly lucky in that I get to eat lots of wild salmon in Vancouver. Thanks for sharing.

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  32. This was scrumptious. I made a fresh pesto with a newly-purchased mini-mortar and pestle (lot more work than I anticipated), and added a light dusting of salmon to the salmon, which I think really brings our the flavor of the fish. Thanks for the great idea, Kalyn! This is going into heavy rotation.

    Next time, I think I'm going to try individually packaging the fillets so that I can easily throw a couple in the fridge to take to work for lunch.

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  33. uh, make that a light sprinkling of CUMIN, not salmon, on the salmon.

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  34. Ahhhh, cumin. I was trying to figure out what you meant. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks faster than I type.

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  35. Mmmm, we just served this as the main course at our Passover seder, which was dairy, and it was SO GOOD! I am not a very good cook so I was thrilled to find this recipe. We used the kosher-for-passover pesto sauce from a jar , which was non-dairy, and the frozen Sockeye salmon from Trader Joe's.

    The one thing I was worried about was the cooking time, as every piece of salmon I had was a different size and shape, but either salmon is a very forgiving fish, or the oil and foil kept it all moist regardless.

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  36. So glad to hear it turned out for you. You're right, I do think the pesto really keeps the fish moist.

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  37. I've impressed a few different sets of guests with this quick, minimal cleanup, delicious recipe :) I like serving it with a lemony side. Thanks!!!

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  38. This turned out wonderfully! Thanks so much for the suggestion - we just loved it! (and it was easy...don't tell my husband) ;)

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  39. Thank you for this recipe - I was looking just for the right temperature and time to cook salmon in foil packets, which I used to easily find at the aluminum foil manufacturer's site, but a google search landed me at your blog entry. I'll have to give your full recipe a try next time! :-)

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  40. This is terrific, I use my own pesto (frozen from last summer) and double what's called for. I am making it a second time for guests.

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  41. Anonymous, glad to hear you liked it, and lucky you to have your own pesto!

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  42. I have never cooked fish before, but I do know that salmon is my favorite. Also, pesto is my all time favorite sauce and the two together sound wonderful, and with the tomato on top... it is just the recipe I was looking for. But I noticed that the recipe doesn't call for any seasoning other that the pesto. Is the pesto enough or is it supposed to be common sense that I should sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the salmon itself?

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  43. Val, I didn't use salt and pepper, but you certainly could if you wanted to.

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  44. Has anyone else run into an issue on cooking time? I have it in the oven at 450 for over 25 minutes and it still is raw on the inside. Any suggestions?

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  45. Anonymous, can't imagine why it would take so long to cook unless your salmon was unusually thick or the oven temperature was wrong.

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  46. We made this tonight with a homemade mizuna pesto and pac choy. I felt like it was missing something, maybe butter. It made for a very moist fish though. thanks!

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  47. Anonymous, I'm not that familiar with mizuna, but maybe the pesto had less oil than the regular basil pesto I used?

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  48. I'm doing a variation on your salmon in foil packets tonight- I love fish cooked in foil. xox

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  49. I am excited to try this tonight. Can anyone tell me what they served with this to complete the meal.

    I am looking for healthy alternative eating recipes and I think this may be a good start. ( I think )

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  50. Is this method of cooking the fish considered steaming it then?

    (haha my idea of baked salmon always involves the fish getting some kind of yummy crusty surface!.. or is that roasting?)

    I'll definitely try this soon!

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  51. I would say that "foil-baked" means baked in foil, which is definitely not steaming. I would also call the fish with a crusty surface baked, but that's just my opinion.

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  52. We had this tonight with mizuna pesto (frozen fresh after summer ended forever ago!) and canned tomato. It was really good. I served it with some steamed broc with soy sauce... simple and good.

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  53. I love the sound of mizuna pesto in this; I bet that is fantastic! Glad you liked it.

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  54. Oh my goodness - this sounds fabulous! Can't wait to try it.

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  55. Jess, this is something I make often for guests, highly recommend this recipe.

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  56. This was fantastic. I cheated and used a can of petit tomatoes instead of fresh. Super easy and still very delicious! Thanks!!! ;) Also, if you don't oil the foil then you can lift the fish right off the skin. I don't like fish skin on my plate.

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  57. Melissa, glad you liked it, and good to know it worked with canned tomatoes as well.

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  58. That looks delicious. I just took a piece of Chinook out today and will try this with tomatoes from the garden tonight!

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  59. Matt, hope you enjoy it, and lucky you to have salmon in the freezer and tomatoes in the garden!

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  60. Oh.My.Gosh. YUM! I made this and added a little bit of fetta cheese and whole almonds in with it. Soooo good! Even great with store bought pesto :)

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  61. Jessica, so glad you liked it!

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  62. Your recipe was a lifesaver. I bought 3 fillets today and did have a clue how I wanted to cook them. I added a few thin lemon slices and a splash of pinot grigio (about a half shot) for a little extra acid.

    Made fresh cooked spinach with garlic and fingerling potatoes with chives, parsley and evoo.

    My wife and daughter loved it. Thanks again.

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  63. Mike, glad to hear it worked well for you!

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  64. Thanks for posting this recipe! I made pesto a few days ago and had no idea how to bake it with the salmon. I'll be trying this one tonight!

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  65. DELICIOUS! My hubby enjoyed it too!

    I cannot tell you how HAPPY and GRATEFUL I am that I found this site! Every time I look for recipes I'm bombarded with so much fat and carbs!! I kind of gave up and just ate whatever was around and easy (lots of rice and pasta dishes).

    I recently decided to go south beach-y and this site is just perfect. Please keep posting and sharing, because I would be lost without it!!

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  66. A friend gave me some homemade pesto and I wanted to make salmon for a dinner party so googled and found your recipe. I am a huge lover of caprese salad so your recipe really caught my eye with the basil pesto and tomotoes. It was a huge hit! I cooked 4 packets so left in the oven for about 5 extra minutes. I served this with a starter of corn, red pepper, and leek soup with creme fraiche; then the salmon with roasted root veges and a salad of arugula, apples, calamata olives and pecans. I will be sharing your recipe and definitely making it again! Cannot wait to check out your other recipes! Thanks! - Houston, TX

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  67. So glad you enjoyed the recipe. This is something I've made over and over for guests.

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  68. I have a dilemma! I took my salmon out of the freezer far too late today and I've gotten myself into a bit of a mess. I've thawed it under cold water but the thickest part is still a bit frozen and it's already 7:15pm. Do you think it would be alright to go ahead and use it, if I adjusted the cooking time longer, perhaps? Would there be an issue with extra liquid?

    It's my own fault, I suppose. I've been so excited about this recipe all week, but my day just got away from me!

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  69. I'd try thawing it a tiny bit more with either the fish inside a plastic bag and run hot water over it, or a microwave, knowing that will start to cook the salmon the tiniest bit. I still think that would be better than having the inside not cooked (and the other part might get dry before the frozen part is done. Hope that works; I love this recipe!

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  70. Thanks for this recipe! Made this today and it came out very tasty.

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  71. I'm sure this is a dumb question, but did you wrap each piece of salmon individually in it's own piece of foil, or did you double wrap the two salmon together. It says two pieces of foil. Not sure where the second piece goes.

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  72. I wrapped both pieces of salmon together, but double-wrapped the packet with foil so it wouldn't leak or burn on the grill.

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  73. Hi Kalyn :-)
    I am excited to try this recipe. I teach and have 3 kiddos. We are BUSY, but are committed to eating healthy despite our schedules. This recipe is perfect for us! I have acquired quite a bit of healthy freezer friendly meals that meet our needs. Do you think this would freeze well? I thought I could prepare it with the pesto, wrap it in foil, and put it in the freezer. When we are ready to enjoy, I could thaw in fridge, top with tomatoes and bake. What do you think?

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  74. Seriously I don't think this will freeze all that. But it only tales a few minutes to throw together.

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Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

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