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Roasted Salmon with Spring Pesto

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 217
Roasted Salmon With Spring Pesto on a platter with radishes, mint, cilantro and carrot ribbons

An herbal, vibrant pea-and-carrot top pesto makes the ideal partner for a big, beautiful filet of roasted salmon. Simple, colorful, healthy and so delicious, this is one dreamy dinner.

A Verdant, Vibrant Springtime Feast

Inspired by thoughts of summer and the salmon harvest that it will bring, we tossed everything that reminded us of sunnier days into a food processor and hit blend. Fresh peas, mint, basil, cilantro, radish greens and carrot tops come together to make the herbal base for a seasonal pesto that sings with freshness and reminds us of the first garden harvests of the year—the first of many, we hope! Pistachios stand in for the traditional pine nuts, but we make no swaps for the Parm—there is just no sub for that one! Take all that brightness and spoon it atop a beautiful, big roasted salmon filet, and—whether spring has sprung, or you’re just pretending it has—you’ll be in the kind of hopeful, happy, blissful state that only springtime can conjure.

salmon on parchment, with peas, radishes, carrots, mint, basil, oil and garlic.

Our Best Tips for Making Perfect Roast Salmon

Salmon is one of those fabulous ingredients that’s hard to mess up. Just buy a great filet, cook it with a little care, and let the fish be its coral-hued, succulent self—it really is (mostly) that simple. A little know-how, and you’ll be a salmon roasting pro in no time. Here are the three most important things to remember when you’re cooking salmon:

  1. Buy good salmon. Salmon fishing season happens in the summertime, but high-quality salmon can easily be found year-round. Color is a great indicator of quality—you want the fish to look really vibrant and bright orangey-pink or red, and not pale at all.

  2. Don’t overcook it. Another reason to buy the best quality salmon you can! Dry salmon is never a good thing—it’s a waste of a good piece of fish. Watch the fish closely as it roasts, as filets can vary a lot in thickness depending on the variety of salmon that you buy. If you’re not sure if the salmon is cooked or not, check the thickest part of the filet by poking it a bit with a fork. If it flakes apart with ease, pull that fish out of the oven!

  3. Don’t over-season it. When we see recipes that call for piling a lot of stuff on top of salmon, we cringe. Fresh, wild salmon is so full of wonderfully unique rich, meaty flavor all on its own, it really doesn’t need much help to be delicious. And, in fact, you can easily end up burying its goodness. This recipe—which has you season it with a bit of salt, oil and lemon—is about as much as we’d ever want to do to a perfect salmon filet.

salmon fillet on a rimmed baking sheet with parchment
salmon fillet baked on a rimmed baking sheet with parchment

The Springiest Sauce of All: Carrot Top Pesto

Wait, stop! Don’t toss those bushy, green carrot tops onto the compost heap just yet. Did you know that you can eat carrot tops? And that they’re actually really tasty? Crisp, tender and vegetal, with a hint of carrot-y flavor, these beautiful greens deserve to be eaten. And carrot top pesto is easily our very favorite way to use them. Same goes for those nice, leafy radish tops, BTW, so those are in the mix here, too. We basically took carrot tops, fresh peas (or frozen, if that’s what you have) and all of our very favorite springtime herbs and made a pesto that tastes like the season of blossom and renewal. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:

  • Peas

  • Pistachios

  • Parmesan

  • Fresh mint

  • Fresh basil

  • Cilantro

  • Carrot tops

  • Garlic cloves

  • Lemon

  • Olive oil

Peas, Pistachios, Parmesan, mint, basil, Cilantro, carrot tops, radish stems, Garlic, Lemon zest and juice and salt
Peas, Pistachios, Parmesan, mint, basil, Cilantro, carrot tops, radish stems, Garlic, Lemon zest and juice and salt
Pea Pesto with Pistachios, Parmesan, mint, basil, Cilantro, 
carrot tops, radish stems, Garlic, Lemon zest
pea pesto in a bowl with carrot ribbons, radishes, mint and cilantro

How To Bake Salmon

Like we said, if you’ve got yourself a great piece of fish, all you have to do to make it into a really delicious dinner is to, well, not do too much to it. Resist the urge to season it to death, or otherwise fuss with it. Just get it onto a sheet pan and let your oven do the rest. Here’s how to make the very best baked salmon:

  1. Lay the salmon fillet, skin side down, on a baking sheet. You can line it with parchment if you want, for much (much!) easier clean up.

  2. Use a pastry brush to coat it lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle on some salt and pepper and finish it all off with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

  3. Bake for about 10 minutes—remember, this time will vary quite a lot depending on the thickness of your filet—until the salmon begins to flake.

  4. Brush the baked salmon with the pesto and top with rainbow carrots, radishes and fresh herbs.

  5. Serve with extra pesto and enjoy!

Roasted Salmon With Spring Pesto on a platter with radishes, mint, cilantro and carrot ribbons

More Easy Salmon Recipes To Try

Tools You’ll Need:

Roasted Salmon With Spring Pesto on a platter with radishes, mint, cilantro and carrot ribbons
Roasted Salmon With Spring Pesto on a platter with radishes, mint, cilantro and carrot ribbons

A Colorful, Healthy Feast for Anytime of the Year

We love that this beautiful meal feels very feast-like, but it’s also incredibly healthy. An indulgence that feels virtuous, too?! Yep, this salmon recipe is just magical like that. We hope you love it as much as we do, and if you try it, we’d love to hear about it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Roasted Salmon with Spring Pesto

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 217

Ingredients

Spring Pesto

  • 1/2 cup Peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup Grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp Packed fresh mint, leaves only
  • 5 Fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, leaves and soft stems, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Packed carrot tops, rough stems removed
  • 1 Large garlic clove, smashed
  • 2 tsp Lemon zest
  • 2 tsp Lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 lb Salmon filet
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 3-4 Carrots, ribboned
  • 2-3 Radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Fresh chives
  • 2 tbsp Fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup Fresh cilantro leaves

Method

  1. Add all of the ingredients for the spring pesto, except for the olive oil, to a food processor. Blend until fully combined while still a little coarse in texture. Slowly add in more olive oil while blade is running on low. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the fish fillet skin side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush salmon with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes until the salmon begins to flake. You want the inside to still be shiny and slightly opaque.
  4. Meanwhile combine the carrots, radishes, chives, mint, cilantro and remaining 1 tbsp of lemon juice in a medium bowl.
  5. Brush with spring pesto and top with carrot herb salad. Serve with extra pesto and enjoy!