Fine Cooking (June/July 2012)
New spins on pesto -- those that do not rely on the classic combination of basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil -- are a staple of food magazines. Almost every month during the spring or summer, at least one magazine is featuring a new kind of pesto that can be served with pasta, meat or chicken.
Some are all about non-pine nut pestos, one of which we've made before (an excellent pesto with walnuts). Others ditch basil for spinach, kale, parsley or other green herbs or vegetables.
We're always smitten with the idea of these non-basil pestos, but we've rarely tried making them. The one time we have made a new take on pesto -- a brocolli pesto earlier this year-- it turned out, well, not so hot. (Our post on that includes a number of suggestions for improving it, if you want to give it a go.)
But a recent excess of arugula had us hunting for a way to use it that didn't involve salad. After flipping through a stack of food magazines, we landed at this Grilled Salmon with Walnut-Arugula Pesto.
As far as easy dinner entrees go, this recipe produces an elegant result that takes little time to pull together.
The pesto is a cinch -- just toast the walnuts and then throw them in a food processor with the greens, basil, Parm, garlic and olive oil. The salmon is seared on a grill pan (you can use a skillet, but you won't have the pretty grill marks). And that's it. Top the salmon with the pesto, or serve it on the side.
We thought this pesto was excellent. It has a peppery bite that's a nice diversion from basil pesto. And we loved it with the salmon (though we think basil pesto would be excellent with salmon, also).
Have you experimented with alternate takes on pesto, or are you a pesto purist? Have other pesto secret to share? Please do!
Grilled Salmon with Walnut-Arugula Pesto
Fine Cooking (June/July 2012), recipe by David Bonom
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Nutritional Information available at FineCooking.com
(This photo: Fine Cooking)
1/4 cup walnut halves
2 cups loosely packed fresh arugula (2-1/2 oz.)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (about 1/2 oz.)
3 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 medium clove garlic
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for the grill pan
4 6- to 8-oz. skinless salmon fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly on a plate, about 3 minutes, and then transfer to a food processor. Add the arugula, basil, Parmigiano, and garlic and process until the mixture is very finely chopped, about 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly add 4 Tbs. of the oil until well combined. If you like, add 1 Tbs. water to thin the pesto. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt.
Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub the salmon fillets all over with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Sprinkle all over with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Put the fillets on the grill pan, skinned side up, and cook until well marked, about 5 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until opaque in the center, about 5 minutes more. Serve with the pesto.