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Baked Salmon with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato

This baked salmon recipe with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes is a simple yet delicious way to prepare your fish for a very special family lunch. Nowruz, the Iranian New  Year, is the celebration of a new day, spring, and life.  Each year we set a Haft Seen table, which is set with seven items that are supposed to represent what people hope to bring into the new year: lentil sprouts for rebirth (sabzeh), sweet pudding for abundance and fertility (samanu), dried fruit for love (senjed), garlic for medicine (seer), apple for health and beauty (seeb), sumac symbolizes the colour of dawn (somaq) and vinegar for age and patience (serkeh) As part of the traditional celebration, Iranians typically prepare fish, sabzi polo (mixed-herb rice) and kookoo sabzi (mixed-herb frittata) for lunch on New Year’s Day.

Basic Ingredients for Baked Salmon with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Salmon: The recipe calls for salmon fillets, the choice is yours if you would like skin-on or skinless fillets. You can use fresh or frozen salmon, if you are using frozen make sure they are completely thawed and you have to pat them dry. Salmon has a mild flavour so it works well with most flavours, especially citrus or other more acidic flavors.

Garlic: Adds a pungent, aromatic flavour to the pesto. It also has various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to boost the immune system.

Walnuts: Add a nutty flavour and a creamy texture to the pesto. They are also a good source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

Parmesan Cheese: A hard, aged cheese that adds a salty, savory flavor to the pesto.

Rocket: I use the rocket for this recipe because of its peppery and nutty flavor. Rocket, also known as arugula, is a leafy green that adds a peppery, slightly bitter flavor to the pesto.

Sun-dried Tomato: The sweet and tart flavour of sundried tomatoes is more intense than fresh tomatoes. The reduced moisture in sundried tomatoes works so well with this dish. Like fresh tomatoes, the sundried version is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

alternative ingredients

Salmon: Hake, halibut, and cod are mild in taste and firm so they make a good salmon substitute.

Pine Nuts: A traditional ingredient in pesto, but they can be quite expensive and may not be available in some regions. Here are some alternatives to pine nuts that can be used in pesto:

  • Walnuts are a great substitute for pine nuts and they are often more affordable. They have a similar texture and nutty flavor that can work well in pesto.
  • Almonds are another affordable alternative to pine nuts. They have a slightly sweeter and milder flavor, but they can still work well in pesto.
  • Cashews have a creamy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor that can add richness to pesto. They can be a great alternative to pine nuts for those with nut allergies.
  • Sunflower seeds are an affordable and nut-free alternative to pine nuts. They have a mild flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients in the pesto.
  • Pumpkin seeds are another nut-free alternative to pine nuts. They have a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture that can add a nice crunch to pesto.

Parmesan Cheese: Is a traditional ingredient in pesto, but there are several alternatives that can be used instead. Here are some options:

  • Pecorino Romano: This Italian cheese is made from sheep’s milk and has a sharp, tangy flavor that is similar to Parmesan. It’s often used in pasta dishes and salads.
  • Asiago: Another Italian cheese, Asiago is made from cow’s milk and has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. It’s often used as a substitute for Parmesan in recipes.
  • Grana Padano: This cheese is also made from cow’s milk and has a similar flavor to Parmesan, but is less expensive. It’s often used as a topping for pasta dishes and risottos.
  • Nutritional yeast: This is a vegan and gluten-free option that is often used as a substitute for Parmesan cheese. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and can be sprinkled on top of pasta, salads, or popcorn.
  • vegan Parmesan cheese: There are a number of brands that make vegan Parmesan cheese using ingredients like nutritional yeast, nuts, and seeds. These can be used as a direct substitute for Parmesan cheese in recipes.

Basil: Is the traditional herb used in pesto, but there are several alternatives that can be used to make a tasty and unique pesto sauce. Here are some options:

  • Arugula: This peppery green is a great alternative to basil and adds a unique flavor to pesto. It pairs well with lemon and garlic.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro is a herb that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine, and it can add a fresh and zesty flavor to pesto.
  • Parsley: Parsley is a mild herb that can be used as a substitute for basil in pesto. It has a fresh and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Spinach: Spinach is a great option for adding some extra nutrients to your pesto. It has a mild flavor and blends well with garlic and lemon.
  • Kale: Kale is a nutritious leafy green that can be used to make a hearty pesto sauce. It has a slightly bitter flavor, so it pairs well with sweeter ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Mint: Mint is a refreshing herb that can add a cooling and slightly sweet flavor to pesto. It pairs well with lemon and garlic.

Serving Tips for baked Salmon with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

  • This recipe makes a great protein star for lunch or dinner.
  • Serve with fresh salad, some mixed herb rice (sabzi polo), or a roasted potatoes
  • Serve while hot for the best results.
  • Garnish with a lemon cut into wedges and some fresh parsley.

storage tips

  • The salmon will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days, if you store it in an airtight container.
  • You can also freeze the salmon fillet and pesto separately for up to 3 months.

Baked Salmon with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Servings: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 kg salmon fillet
  • 4 tbsp rocket and walnut pesto (Recipe below)
  • 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomato, cut into thin slices
  • salt

Rocket and walnut Pesto Sauce

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cup loosely packed fresh rocket
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • In a food processor, finely chops the garlic.  Stop the machine then add the walnuts, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and rocket, then process until finely chopped.  While the motor is running, slowly add the olive oil.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
  • Wash and pat dry the salmon. Place the fish on the baking dish and spread pesto evenly on top of the fish. Arrange the sun-dried tomato on top of the pesto.
  • Place the tray in the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Make sure not to overcook the salmon it will dry out.
  • Serve with sabzi polo rice, green salad, or roasted potatoes on the side.

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