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7 Nov 2011

Pumpkin-seeds pesto over Salmon, rice-noodles and white beans

Seared salmon fillet with pumpkin-seeds pesto
The Secret Recipe Club is back!
This time I got assigned Melissa's blog: A Fit and spicy Life. In here Melissa, tries to reconcile her love for good food with a healthy lifestyle made of stress-relieving cardio and weight-lifting sessions. Among the healthy and simple recipes Melissa proposes us, my eyes were caught by her Salmon with Pumpkin seeds pesto.

Pumpkin seeds are widely enjoyed both in Germany as back home in Sicily but I haven't cooked with them as yet.
As a kid, during our usual Sunday walk, we would always stop at the "calia e simenza" shop near the town cathedral. The neon lit, rustic stand was filled with baskets of dry fruits and freshly roasted nuts.

Dried Nuts

My all time favorite were the roasted chickpeas with their sandy texture and lovely crunch; I just shoveled them by the handful into my mouth. They were usually served in paper bag and dad would also buy some roasted pumpkin seeds as well as peanuts, but these both came with more work before I could eat them so I just left them to my parents.
Here in Germany I found them back.
The pumpkin seeds lace many of the succulent dark-bread loaves giving them a lovely crunch. My mother was also quite surprised in finding little bags of ready-shelled seeds in the grocery store shelves but this time I wasn't so lucky. I had to buy a bag of shell-on seeds since the shelled one were outrageously something like 3-times more expensive. I figured that, since I do like shelling pistachio nuts, I would also like doing it for them. Wroooong!!
The flesh-to-shell ratio of pistachios (as in every nut) is much larger! It took me almost 2 hours to shell 1/2cup worth of pumpkin seeds and no, I wasn't snacking on them in the meantime.
By the end my lips where swollen like a life-saving vest from all the salt on the shells. Worthless to say that it was well past dinner time and I had to fix something to quiet my rambling stomach while keeping still some space to taste the recipe I was supposed to prepare.
By the time I cooked it all and had it ready to shoot, it was past midnight...

The recipe I will propose you has been adapted from the original from "Bon Appetit". The original recipe was based on cilantro but since I do not really like it that much, I substituted it for flat-leaf parsley reckoning that its taste would go very well with salmon. Actually I wanted to use chervil for its light licorice taste but couldn't find any in the store and I only had dry tarragon home.
Honestly, in most of the pestos I have had, I rarely had found notes from the nuts used in them; and this time wasn't any different. I think that they provide mostly the bulk and baseline for the sauce flavor concealed under the herbs and garlic notes.
In my recipe I also left out the lime juice since I do not stand sour pestos (they remind me too much of the jarred version). Last but not least, I used Parmesan instead of only salt to flavour the sauce. How I served it to myself? With some rice tagliatelle dressed with a little pesto diluted in olive oil and some white beans.

Pumpkin seeds-Parsley pesto over pan fried salmon, rice tagliatelle and white beans (adapted from Bon Appetit )
Seared salmon fillet with pumpkin-seeds pesto
Seared salmon fillet with pumpkin-seeds pesto

Ingredients (serve 4): 
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup parsley (about 5-6 stalks), chopped coarsely
  • 1tsp coriander seeds, toasted and grinded
  • 1/2 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 2tsp grated Parmesan, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  • 4 medium salmon fillets
  • Vegetable oil

  • 4 bundles dry rice tagliatelle
  • Vegetable stock, optional

  • 1cup cooked white beans

For the pesto, gather all the dry ingredients and the olive oil in the bowl on a little food processor and pulse them till a coarse paste forms. Add the water little at a time to loosen up the pesto to the consistency you prefer. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

If using, bring the vegetable stock to a boil and pour it over the dry rice noodles; in alternative just use boiling water and salt to soak them.

Sprinkle the salmon fillets with a little salt on both sides and coat them lightly with vegetable oil. Warm up a skillet on medium fire and pan fry the salmon fillets on both sides, turning them over when the first side will have developed a nice crust. Set aside keeping them warm.
Pour a little water in the pan to loosen the juices, lower the fire and add the white beans to gently warm them up.

Drain well the rice noddle and dress them with some of the pesto, eventually loosened in some extra olive oil, add the beans and toss thoroughly.

Serve in deep bowls with the salmon fillets on top finishing by some of the pesto on the salmon.


  1. What a fantastic post for SRC!!!

    This is my first time on your blog! Love it.
    I am your newest follower.

    Check out my SRC post if you haven't already:

    Butter Cake with Peach Sauce

  2. I am new to your blog too!

    I love the idea of pumpkin Pesto with salmon & rice noodles. Perfect as you mentioned for my gym fitness.

    Wished you had some photos to see what it would look like. =I

  3. I just made this recipe and really loved how it turned out, the pumpkin seeds added a nice texture to the pesto.

  4. You are so funny! I am sitting here imagining you cracking open a gazillion pumpkin seeds, spitting the shell out onto your living room floor and stomping into the kitchen to finally prepare this. Gorgeous although maybe next time create something that has more of the pumpkin seed crunch and taste? But everything you make is gorgeous!

  5. My this looks gorgeous! Great recipe.

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my SRC recipe this month: Pork Belly Soup with Collard Greens.

    Cook Lisa Cook

  6. Such a delicious looking meal! I love the pumpkin seed pesto...yum!

  7. This sounds so flavorful and looks so pretty too.

  8. This looks really delicious - I love salmon! :)

  9. What a nice healthy dinner this is - lots of protein and gluten-free!

  10. Looks and sounds like the result was worth all that work! Good SRC selections!

  11. This looks yummy. Great choice for gluten free.
    I am really enjoying following the SRC.

  12. Great post.Thanks for sharing such a useful information with us.