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Grilled or Roasted King Salmon with Pistachio Pesto
Michelle Lee finds that pistachio pesto lends rich, dynamic flavor to grilled or roasted salmon

Welcome to my Colorado kitchen!

This series features me, Michelle — a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains — my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking.

(Click here to learn more about me, below.)

I want to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.

I’m a cookbook collector, but rarely take them down from the shelves for weekday dinner planning.

However, once in a while you get a fantastic idea from a cookbook that makes a big impression and informs future menu preparation.

That’s the case with this recipe — the pistachio pesto, prepared directly on the cutting board in lieu of in a food processor, came from one of my favorite books: The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.

While my pesto ingredients differ, their technique is truly inspired. Instead of trotting out the heavy and complex food processor, prepare your pesto directly on the cutting board.

This bright and flavorful pesto takes five to ten minutes to prepare, depending on your dexterity with a knife — you can easily chop it all by hand while the oven or grill preheats and the wild king salmon (or sockeye or silver) cooks.

Rich and salty roast pistachios, bright and fresh basil and Italian parsley, a touch of olive oil and lemon zest … just a few key ingredients come together to create a simple topping for any type of salmon you prefer.

A few notes for the cook
If you’re lucky enough to own a mezzaluna blade (and ideally a curved chopping bowl as well), this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for!

I’m not quite so lucky, so I simply used a large wood cutting board and a 10" chef’s knife.

If you prefer a finer pesto, feel free to make this in your food processor. Simply place all the pesto ingredients in the processor (except the oil), pulse until finely chopped, then gradually add the olive oil through the top hole of the lid as the processor runs.

This was wonderfully flavorful with king salmon – however, any type of wild salmon would be excellent. Just be aware that sockeye or silver salmon are leaner, and will cook more quickly than king.

And, of course, feel free to grill your salmon in lieu of roasting, depending on the season and your inclination.

The Vital Choice wild Pacific king salmon portions I had in the freezer were not skinless. However, after roasting on parchment, the fillets were easy to slip off the skin for serving.

My rating: 4 out of 4 stars


Serves 2; easily doubled

  • ¼ small red onion (about 2 tablespoons minced)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • Two 6-oz. portions Wild Pacific King Salmon, thawed

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  2. To prepare the pesto, mince the red onion and garlic clove in the center of a large cutting board. Add the basil and Italian parsley leaves and finely chop.
  3. Add the pistachios and roughly chop into the herbs, onion and garlic. Pour olive oil directly over the mixture, then zest about a tablespoon of fresh lemon rind over the pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir together on top of the cutting board.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and season the salmon portions to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle each piece lightly with olive oil and roast in the center of the oven 6-8 minutes, until the salmon is flaky yet still moist.
  5. Top each portion with half of the prepared pesto and serve immediately!

A Note from Michelle

Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that’s easy to prepare. 

While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I’m short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.

I’m not a professional chef – just a busy mom who loves to cook and who’s focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.

I want this series to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.

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