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pesto pasta in a white baking dish topped with breaded salmon fillets

Pesto Salmon & Pasta

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American/Italian


Light, savory, and satisfying, this pesto salmon recipe is quick and easy—perfect for weeknights or special occasions. Serve with the pesto pasta and zoodles, or skip the pasta and serve with roasted vegetables, salad, or dinner rolls.



Herb Pesto (or use store-bought!)

  • 1 ½ cups (lightly packed) basil
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup (packed) Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pesto Pasta & Zoodles:

  • 1 ½ medium zucchini (or 2 small), spiralized
  • ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • ½ cup of the prepared pesto, or store-bought*

Pesto Salmon:

  • 5 skin-on salmon fillets (4-ounces each), 1–1½ inches thick
  • ¼ cup of the prepared pesto, or store-bought*
  • Morton kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons whole-wheat bread crumbs, preferably Panko


For the pesto, pulse basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, parsley, chives, garlic, and salt together in a food processor until finely chopped. With processor running, stream in oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Skip this step if using store-bought pesto.

Heat oven to 400°F (204ºC) with racks set in both upper third and middle positions. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Toss zucchini noodles with ½ teaspoon salt in a colander set over a bowl; let sit 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season generously with salt, add angel hair pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water then drain pasta. Add pasta back to now empty pot with ½ cup pesto.

Meanwhile, pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel; arrange skin-side down on prepared sheet and season lightly with salt and pepper. (If the ends of the fillets are really thin, slightly tuck them under to encourage even cooking). Spread scant 1 tablespoon pesto over top of each fillet. Combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs; spoon evenly over fillets, pressing down lightly to adhere.

Bake fillets until nearly cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centers registers 120ºF (49ºC), 8–10 minutes (start checking at 6 minutes if using thinner fillets). Turn oven to broil, transfer sheet to top rack and broil fillets until topping is golden brown and crispy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centers registers 140ºF (60ºC), about 3 minutes.

Squeeze zucchini noodles to release excess liquid (when you think you’re done, squeeze a bit more), discard liquid and transfer zucchini noodles to pot with cooked pasta and pesto; toss gently to combine. Adjust consistency with reserved pasta water by ¼ cup as needed; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve salmon over pasta with additional Parmesan, pesto, and a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.


30-MINUTE MEAL: use store-bought pesto instead of making a homemade pesto.

*STORE-BOUGHT PESTO: If you’d rather use purchased pesto, seek out fresh refrigerated pesto as opposed to jarred pesto—it has much better flavor!

HOMEMADE PESTO: pesto recipe above makes 1¼ cups.

QUICK TIP: cooking the salmon skin side down, on an ungreased baking sheet, makes it so the  skin sticks to the pan. Why is this great? Well the skin helps keep the salmon nice and moist while cooking, but when it comes time to serve, you leave the unwanted skin behind! Voila, best of both worlds! If you’re someone who enjoys salmon skin, lightly grease the foil with nonstick cooking spray before placing the salmon on it.

GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: use gluten-free pasta or use all zucchini noodles instead of a combination of pasta and zucchini noodles.

WHOLE-GRAIN OPTION: use whole-wheat pasta in place of regular angel hair pasta.


  • Serving Size: estimate for 1/5 of the recipe
  • Calories: 484
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 407mg
  • Fat: 23g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Cholesterol: 67mg

Keywords: pesto salmon, baked salmon, pesto salmon pasta

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