I love salmon but unfortunately my boyfriend hates it.  Lucky for me, a few friends came over last night who are not salmon-haters.  My Vegan Pesto Crusted Salmon was the perfect dish to whip up in minutes, and impress a group.  It looks fancy, and that’s the best part!  It’s ridiculously easy to make and everyone is wowed. 

Pesto is commonly made with cheese.  I make it vegan by eliminating the cheese and adding a teaspoon of mustard to kick the flavor up a notch.  You can also make a pesto with any nut.  Last night I happened to have pine nuts lying around but pistachios are also a great pairing, particularly with salmon. 

The trick to the pesto crust is to make the pesto a courser consistency than most commonly found in a pesto sauce.  Instead of adding enough olive oil that it is like a liquidy sauce, the mixture should resemble sticky crumbs.  They will start to stick together, almost like dough, in the food processor.  This is the perfect consistency to layer on the salmon and bake.

I paired the salmon with sunchokes- another showstopper for most guests that may not have ever had a sunchoke.  Sunchokes, also known as Jersualem Artichokes, are not commonly used, but are in-season all year round. 

I can’t understand why they’re not used more often because they’re delicious!  Only thing I’ve come up with is people a) don’t know what it looks like and b) are scared to try something they’ve never seen before.

To alleviate any sunchoke hesitations, this vegetable looks very much like a ginger root.  In terms of consistency and flavor, I always say it’s like if a potato and parsnip had a baby.  It has a starchy consistency, and roasts similar to a potato, but has a sweeter flavor, like that of a parsnip.

If you’re entertaining, or just want a delicious dinner for yourself, I highly recommend this.  Let me know what you think!

Vegan Pesto Crusted Salmon

½ cup pine nuts

1 bunch of basil leaves (approximately 20 leaves)

2 tbspn olive oil

1 tspn Dijon or champagne mustard

2 4-6 oz salmon fillets

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a food processor, combine the pine nuts and basil.  Blend together until it is the consistency of crumbs
  3. Add the olive oil and mustard.  Pulse until it begins to form a sticky dough like consistency.  You want it to be thick as it is a crust not a sauce
  4. Take the pesto crust and layer evenly onto the salmon, pressing in slightly to ensure it sticks.  Crust layer should be about a 1/8 inch thick.  If it’s too thick it will not crisp
  5. Bake the salmon for 15 minutes or until you’ve reached desired cook.  Slightly less time will be more medium-rare and slightly more time will be more well done.