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Pesto-Crusted Salmon

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Serve this basil-infused fish with steamed fresh spinach dressed with butter and lemon.

  1. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  2. 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  3. 6 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  4. 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons olive oil
  5. 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. Six 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
  8. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  1. In a food processor, pulse the garlic and pine nuts to a paste. Add the basil and process to a paste. With the machine on, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the olive oil, scraping down the sides once, to make a smooth pesto sauce. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in 1 cup of the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, warm 2 teaspoons of the oil over high heat. Season the salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. When the oil is almost smoking, add 3 of the fillets and brown them quickly, turning once, about 1 minute per side. Repeat with the remaining fillets and brown them quickly, turning once, about 1 minute per side. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Let the salmon cool to room temperature.
  3. Spread 2 tablespoons of the pesto on 1 side of each fillet. Gently pack the remaining bread crumbs on top of the pesto.
  4. Warm 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in each of 2 large ovenproof skillets over moderate heat. When the pans are hot, carefully add the salmon fillets, pesto side down, Put 1 piece of the butter next to each fillet to melt into the oil. Cook until the bread crumbs are toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the skillets to the oven without turning the fillets and bake for about 5 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked through. Serve the fillets pesto side up.
Make Ahead The pesto can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Pour a thin film of olive oil over the surface to prevent discoloration and cover tightly.

Suggested Pairing

Serve with a West Coast Pinot Noir, such as Foris from Oregon or Acacia Carneros from California.

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