Grilled Salmon with Cilantro-Pecan Pesto

At La Biznaga, Fernando López Velarde creates untraditional dishes that nod to local flavors. Here, for instance, he grills salmon until the fish is crackling-crisp, then tops it with a wonderfully bright pesto he makes with cilantro—a staple of Mexican cuisine—in place of the usual basil.


Slideshow:  More Salmon Recipes


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  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups lightly packed cilantro
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Four 6- to 7-ounce salmon fillets, with skin

How to make this recipe

  1. Light a grill. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans in a pie dish and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes. Let the pecans cool, then coarsely chop them.

  2. In a food processor, combine the pecans with the cilantro, cheese, stock and vinegar and process to a puree. With the machine on, gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

  3. Oil the grill grates. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and grill the fillets skin side down, over moderately high heat until nicely charred and crisp, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the fillets and grill until just cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Spoon the pesto onto plates. Top with the fillets, skin side up, and serve.

Make Ahead

The cilantro pesto can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Suggested Pairing

The nutty, herbal pesto makes salmon, already a red-wine-friendly fish, even more suited to a fragrant, light-bodied red like Pinot Noir. Pour one from Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Contributed By Photo © Maura McEvoy Published October 2009

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