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Our recipe for Salmon Pesto Pasta features pasta topped with pesto and salmon for a delicious way to enjoy some healthy seafood. You can make it with traditional pesto or our kale pesto recipe. We have paired this dish with two different white wines from Spain. Disclosure: The wine was sent as a complimentary sample.
Salmon gets combined with pesto and pasta a lot in our home.
I often make a big batch of kale pesto on Sunday. Some of that pesto gets tossed with pasta, with some extra saved for a quick meal during the week. I also like that kale pesto on seafood, so will often serve fish alongside my pasta, while offering chicken or pork to Jodi, who is not a fish fan.
Salmon and pesto combine so well I realized I needed to serve our salmon pesto pasta recipe straight up here on Cooking Chat. It’s a regular on our menu, and if you like salmon and pesto, this salmon pesto pasta might quickly become a favorite of yours, too.
Making Salmon Pesto PastaSalmon pesto pasta is a very easy meal to put together. You start by making the pesto.
I provide the salmon pesto pasta recipe below using a classic basil pesto recipe. But these days I am making kale pesto more than basil pesto, and using kale pesto for this recipe is definitely a good option.
The recipe below also uses the typical pine nuts. But our home has been nut free for awhile due to food allergies. Pumpkin seeds are a great substitute in order to make a nut free pesto!
Once you get your pesto made, start boiling the water for pasta. I like to do a simple pan sear method for cooking the salmon. Start that about halfway through the pasta cooking time and things will all come together nicely.
Pairing Wine with Salmon Pesto Pasta
Salmon is one of those dishes where the wine pairing can go in different directions depending on the preparation and what you are serving it with.
I often enjoy salmon with a red wine. This Salmon with Mushrooms recipe pairs beautifully with Pinot Noir, and is a great pairing to dispel the notion that you need to always drink white wine with fish.
But when you add zesty pesto to the salmon and wine equation, it’s time to start thinking about a white wine pairing for salmon pesto pasta.
If I’m just having a vegetarian pesto pasta dish, I am going to focus on a crisp white wine, on the lighter side. Sauvignon Blanc is a classic choice for pesto, and I also like Picpoul de Pinet.
But when you combine salmon with pesto pasta, a fuller bodied white wine is needed to stand up to the fish. A white Rhone blend or a number of Italian white wines can do the trick. For my 2020 remake of the dish, a went with the Barón Ladrón de Guevara Blanco White Rioja (under $20, 12.5% ABV).
This white wine from Spain’s best known wine region is made from 100% Malvasia grapes. I got honeysuckle and pink bubblegum on the nose (not sure if this is an official wine term, calling it like I smelled it!). White peach and honeydew melon on the palate, with notes of lemon. This medium bodied white worked well with both the pesto past and the salmon.
Back when I updated this recipe in 2018, I had a sample of white wine from Navarra to try with the dish.
White Wine from Navarra
For the April Wine Pairing Weekend event, hosted by Gwendolyn at Wine Predator, we are enjoying wines from the Navarra region of Spain. Navarra is located in Northeast Spain, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Lesser known than the adjacent Rioja region, Navarra definitely has a wide range of wines worthy trying. Learn more about the region at the Navarra Wine website.
I was sent to wines to sample from Navarra, and decided to open the 2017 Ochoa Calendas Blanco ($15, 12.5% ABV) with our salmon pesto pasta. The wine is comprised of 50% Chardonnay, 43% Viura, 7% Moscatel. Light straw color in the glass, lemon on the nose. I tasted citrus and seashells, with a nice long finish.
The balance of citrus and round flavors made this a great match for the salmon pesto pasta. The Chardonnay component gives it the body to match the salmon, the Viura I believe brings the crispness that goes with the pesto, and a touch of sweetness from the Moscatel.
The Calendas Blanco also went great with the serrano ham we nibbled on while I was cooking!
What is that Viura grape mentioned in the wine description? Viura is Northern Spain’s term that goes by Macabeo elsewhere. This article suggests Viura can sometimes be bland, but made well it brings a refreshing crispness to the forefront. Clearly that is happening in this bottle from Ochoa.
Bodegas Ochoa, located in the small town of Olite, traces its winemaking roots to 1370, as the wine supplier for the king. The winery has been continuously family owned and operated since 1845. Learn more about Bodegas Ochoa here.Print
Salmon Pesto Pasta
Pasta tossed with pesto and salmon for a delicious way to enjoy some healthy seafood. Make with traditional basil pesto as shown below, or use kale pesto if you like.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: Italian
For the pesto
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 cups basil leaves, tightly packed
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 tbsp pine nuts*
For the salmon and pasta
- 12 ozs wild salmon fillet
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 tsp champagne vinegar (other light vinegar is OK)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 12 ozs ziti or other short pasta shape
- Begin boiling water for the pasta.
- Place the garlic cloves in the food processor, pulse to mince.
- Add the remaining pesto ingredients–basil, cheese, olive oil and pine nuts– to the food processor. Puree until all the ingredients combined in a well-integrated sauce. Scrape the sides of the processor to get any chunk of basil or garlic that haven’t been incorporated yet, and briefly puree again. Set the pesto aside.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook based on package instruction timing and testing for doneness. When the pasta is done, toss it immediate with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the pesto. Cover to keep warm while you finish cooking the salmon.
- As the pasta cooks, begin cooking the salmon.
- Make a quick marinade by combining the olive oil, rosemary, champagne vinegar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Rinse and pat dry the salmon. Place the salmon flesh side down in the marinade, then turn over and let the salmon rest for a few minutes in the mixture, skin side down.
- Heat the canola oil on medium high in a nonstick skillet. When the pan is hot, add the salmon skin side down. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes without moving the salmon. After this initial cooking time, carefully turn the salmon over with a spatula.
- Sear the salmon for 2 more minutes, flesh side down. Turn the salmon back over to the skin side. Depending on the salmon thickness and how you like it, the salmon may be ready now or need 2 more minutes cooking skin side down.
- When the salmon is done, remove it to a platter. Break the salmon into serving portions.
- Plate a serving of the pasta, topped with a portion of salmon, and an extra dollop of the pesto. Enjoy with a glass of white wine!
- I give the traditional pine nuts in the ingredients list, but since our home switched to nut free due to allergies, I now substitute lightly toasted pumpkins seeds. This works very well.
- I make a version of this dish with kale pesto frequently. It’s pretty similar to traditional basil pesto. Get our kale pesto
Keywords: salmon with pesto, pasta with seafood, salmon pesto pasta, salmon with Spanish white wine