Arctic Char with Kale Pesto features the delicate tasting fish grilled and topped with a zesty pesto sauce, served over a bed of pasta. A healthy and delicious seafood recipe. Read along for details, including our wine pairing suggestions, or click here to jump down to the recipe.
OK, Arctic Char with Kale Pesto may not seem super creative to regular readers of Cooking Chat. We make a lot of kale pesto here, and topping various seafood with kale pesto is one of our favorite ways to use the green goodness.
As I noted when I served Grilled Arctic Char with Pineapple Salsa, char has a delicate flavor a bit like trout, though the fillet looks a bit like salmon (photo below is from the previous recipe with pineapple salsa). You can learn more about Arctic char on this seafood industry site.
Arctic char has been on sale a few times lately at Whole Foods (March 2020). When I have ventured out to the store, they have been keeping their seafood fairly well stocked.
So if you come upon this recipe soon, this Arctic char could be a nice option for a Fish Friday during the final weeks of Lent, or a healthy meal whenever you like.
The delicate taste of Arctic char makes kale pesto a great topping, as the fish lets the zesty flavors of the kale pesto shine. I served the Arctic Char with kale pesto on a bed of ziti that had been tossed with a bit of the pesto. I enjoyed the char mixed together with the pasta, as well as having some of the fish on its own.
Pan Seared Arctic Char
We initially made this recipe using grilled Arctic char. The recipe card below tells you how to make this recipe on the grill.
If you’d like to pan sear the arctic char instead, complete recipe steps 1 through 3, plus 5 (make the kale pesto, cook the pasta and prepare the quick marinade for the fish). Then follow these steps to sear the char:
- Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large, non-stick skillet on medium high.
- When the pan is hot, gently shake off the excess oil from the fish. Place the char skin side down on the skillet. Cook for 4 minutes without moving the fish.
- After 4 minutes, carefully slide a spatula under the char and turn it over. Cook flesh side down for another two minutes.
- Use the spatula to turn the char over, and cook for another 2 minutes so that the char is just cooked through.
- Plate a serving of the pasta with kale pesto, then top it with a portion of the cooked char along with some extra pesto. Enjoy!
Wine Pairing for Arctic Char
For our recent remake of this Arctic char recipe, I opened one of our go-to white wines, the 2018 Saint-Peyre Picpoul de Pinet (appx. $10, 13% ABV).
I get citrus on the nose of this Picpoul. Taste of lemon fruit and sea shells. Minerality. Nice mouthfeel, some softness along with the acidity.
That acidity makes it a good choice for the kale pesto; and the shells suggest seafood. As suspected, those elements made for a very good pairing!
If you can’t find the Picpoul, a Sauvignon Blanc could work in similar fashion as a pairing for the Arctic char recipe.
Given that char doesn’t have a super strong flavor on it’s own, we are definitely focusing on the flavors of the sauce when pairing with this fish. Thus, we went for a full bodied rosé to pick up the flavors in the pineapple salsa topping for our grilled arctic char.
Original wine pairing
Making this Arctic Char with Kale Pesto seemed like a great excuse to open the Les Hospices Chenin Blanc ($20, 13% ABV) from Domaine Des Terres Blanches in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley. I had just sampled it at Pairings Wine and Food the other day, and correctly anticipated with would go well with the char and kale pesto.
This Chenin Blanc is full bodied, with taste of honey and apple, and a nice long finish. The fruit and honey refreshed the palate nicely after bits of the flavorful pesto, and the body of this white wine worked well with the fish. I’m thinking this Chenin Blanc would also be great with roasted chicken, especially if it is prepared with some lemon. A good quality wine I will certainly pick up again.Print
Arctic Char with Kale Pesto
Grilled Arctic char topped with kale pesto, served on a bed of pasta, makes for a tasty and healthy meal.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins
- Yield: 3 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: grilling
- Cuisine: Seafood
FOR THE KALE PESTO
- 4 cups tightly packed kale leaves, stems removed
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted (pine nuts or walnuts would work, too)
- generous pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the fish
- 12 oz Arctic char fillet
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 ozs pasta to serve with the fish– we like ziti
- Start making kale pesto: Add the kale and garlic to a food processor, coarsely chopping to create enough room for the other ingredients.
- Finish the pesto: Add the pumpkin seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cheese, and olive oil, and puree until it comes to a nice smooth consistency. Set the pesto aside.
- Start cooking the pasta: Put water on to boil as you make kale pesto. Cook some pasta according to package directions, and toss with about 2 tablespoons of the kale pesto. Cover and keep warm on the stove while you grill the fish.
- Preheat a grill to 400.
- Prepare the fish: Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with some salt and pepper in a large bowl.Rinse the char fillet, pat dry. Place the fillet in the bowl with olive oil flesh side down, then turn over to the skin side to get the fish well coated.
- Start grilling the char: Gently shake off excess oil, then place the fish carefully on the grill, skin side down. Grill on the skin side for 4 minutes, then turn over to grill for 3 minutes flesh side down. Note: the skin may stick to the grill, that is OK. Just place the fish flesh side on a clean portion of the grill and remove the skin later.
- Finish grilling: After the char has grilled for 7 minutes total, the fish should be cooked through but still nice and moist. Remove the char from the grill and place on a large platter.
- Serve: Plate a portion of the pasta, topped with a scoop of the kale pesto. Spread the pesto over the fish. Repeat for the other servings, and enjoy!
- You could substitute basil pesto for the kale pesto if you like.
- Sometimes we pan sear the Arctic char. The process is described more in the text; but in short: heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a nonstick skillet on medium high. Cook the char skin side down for 4 minutes, then turn over to cook another 2 minutes skin side up. Turn the char over one more time and finish by cooking another 2 minutes skin side down.
Keywords: arctic char, kale pesto, pesto and fish, grilled seafood