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Salmon with Walnut-Parsley Pesto over Rye Pasta


Salmon with Walnut-Parsley Pesto

Salmon with Walnut-Parsley Pesto

Holly A. Heyser
This is a Northern Italian-inspired pasta dish that I am very, very happy with. It is a winter pesto made with walnuts and parsley instead of the usual pine nuts and basil, tossed with pasta made from rye flour. Rye pasta is hard to find, so use whole wheat or any dark flour pasta, such as farro, spelt or buckwheat. And it doesn't matter what shape pasta you use, although I use tagliatelle. Any kind of salmon will work in this recipe -- even canned or smoked. Don't forget a squeeze of lemon over each dish at the end for some zip! This recipe serves 4 as a light main course.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 lb salmon fillets
  • Salt
  • 1 lb pasta, such as tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 T grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 T chopped parsley
  • 3 T finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 T high quality olive oil
  • 2 T regular olive oil


Start by making the pesto. I do this with a mortar and pestle, but if you don't want to do this, you can use a food processor with decent results. First add the chopped garlic and a pinch of salt, then top with the chopped parsley. Pound this well for a minute or two.

Add the walnuts and grated cheese and pound this until you get a thick paste, about 2-3 minutes. Add one tablespoon at a time of the high-quality olive oil, pounding and mixing all the time, until the paste loosens enough to be tossed with pasta. You might need to add an extra tablespoon, and that's OK.

Skin your salmon fillets and salt them well. Set them aside.

Boil a large kettle of water, and add a palmful of salt. Once your water is boiling and the pasta is in, heat the regular olive oil in a large frying pan set on high heat.

Lay the salmon fillets gently down on the hot oil and immediately turn the heat down to medium-high. Let them sizzle for at least 2 minutes -- more if they are thick. After 2-4 minutes, shake the pan. If the fillets release, flip them. If not, wait another minute or two. Be sure to cook the salmon all the way through; rare salmon is delicious, but not in this recipe.

If you are using canned or smoked salmon, just flake it out into morsels.

When the salmon is done, set aside to cool a little. As soon as you can stand it, flake the meat out and put it in a large bowl. Add a dollop of the pesto and mix gently.

Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Add the rest of the pesto and mix gently until everything is incorporated.

When you serve, pour or squeeze a little lemon juice on each serving right before you bring it to the table.

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