Family Style Pesto Salmon Wrapped in Filo

Family Style Pesto Salmon Wrapped in Filo



I don’t know how the weather is where you are but it’s gorgeous here in Arizona. This is the time of year when the desert is most beautiful; the Spring flowers are out, the birds are singing, and people are out walking, biking, hiking and taking advantage of this stellar weather. It’s also the time of year when many families gather to celebrate for religious and cultural reasons, or simply a Spring fling to get away from the day to day routines. I’ve been wanting to post family style pesto salmon trout wrapped in filo dough for a long time. Some time back I posted a recipe for wild salmon with pesto wrapped in filo and each piece of fish is individually wrapped. In this recipe the whole fish is wrapped, and it’s a superb dish to serve on a special occasion, or anyday for family and friends.

Before I got my healthy eating habits I had no problem about using puff pastry for this dish. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have anything against puff pastry now; in fact, I love it. But, the way my healthy eating habits works is that I make daily decisions about what foods I’ll eat and prepare for my family. Puff pastry is scrumptious but, there is another healthier choice that also tastes very good, and that’s to use filo dough brushed with extra virgin olive oil rather than using puff pastry. I prepare this dish for family and friends and everyone raves about it. It tastes sooo good, and it’s just the better choice when compared to salmon trout in puff pastry. Take a look at the graffic below to see a Nutrition Facts comparison (the fish and pesto are the same in both dishes, but 2 pieces of white bread are factored in for the salmon trout with filo recipe—it’s an equivalent for the filo dough—and 1 pound of puff pastry is factored in for the fish with puff pastry).

The results of the comparison are pretty revealing. Even though they are both rated with a nutrition grade of C+, the fish in puff pastry has two and a half times the saturated fat as the fish in filo, and it has almost twice as many calories.



Sometimes you don’t realize the difference a few changes can make until you see a side by side comparison. Dietary modifications are easy to make and the food can be equally delicious if not better. What’s more, you may even gain a healthier outlook knowing that you are taking care of your body. Go ahead and enjoy this guilt-free, delicious, and healthier recipe with family and friends!

**Edited -4-22-14 The title of the post should read family style pesto salmon trout wrapped in filo, as I made the recipe with steelhead trout which is somewhat like salmon but is part freshwater fish. I have kept the title the same but have edited the narrative.

Family Style Pesto Salmon Wrapped in Filo

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Family Style Pesto Salmon Wrapped in Filo


    For the Pesto:
  • 2 cups basil, well packed
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Other:
  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds Steelhead salmon, farmed or fresh
  • 1 box filo dough
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for brushing the filo)


    Prepare the Pan:
  1. Line a jelly roll pan, or a large pan with tin foil. It must be large enough for a cookie rack to fit inside of it.
  2. Make the Pesto:
  3. Process the garlic until it is minced, and then add the pine nuts and process 8 seconds. Add the salt and basil and process about 8 seconds. Slowly add the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place this in a small bowl covered with plastic and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  4. Prepare the Fish:
  5. Select a knife to cut the salmon trout away from the skin. A long slicer works best, or you can use a chef's knife. Wash the fish and pat it dry.
  6. Cut the fish filet away from the skin. To do this hold the knife in your right hand, and the hold the tail of the fish with your left hand (this is for right handers. Left handed people with reverse this and hold the knife in the left hand and the tail in the right). Slide the knife blade back and forth between the flesh and the skin, and keep the angle of the blade at a 30° angle. Once you have successfully sliced in about three inches you will be able to grab the skin and hold it firmly as you continue to slide the blade back and forth to remove the skin. Discard the skin, and lightly salt and pepper the filets.
  7. Arrange the fish on the countertop. Place the first filet on the countertop with the bright orange side facing up, with the tail on your left. The second filet goes on top of the first, bright orange sides facing together and the tail end will be on your right. Arrange them so there is an even thickness when the two sides are together. They will not completely overlap but they should distribbute to an even thickness. Trim the tail ends, as much or as little is needed, to have a center piece that feels like the weight is evenly distributed.
  8. Get out your filo dough and carefully unroll it. Lift up one full sheet and lay it on the counter. Lightly brush on some to cover. Repeat the with 3 more sheets of filo and 3 more time of oiling. When you have 4 sheets together on the counter place the bottom filet in the center of the oiled filo sheets. Cover with all the pesto sauce and then top with the second filet, making sure that the thick end of the top piece matches up with the thin end on the bottom piece.
  9. Get out a new sheet of filo and lay it on the counter so it is longer horizontally than vertically. Lightly brush it with oil. Top this with a second sheet of fill and lightly oil it. Next, fold it over from left to right. Lay this piece over the fish to cover it, and then trim the edges to remove the excess dough.
  10. **At this Point the last two pictures do not match up with the instructions. I hope they do not confuse you, but the idea is to get the package of fish flipped over and onto the cookie rack. The best way to do this is to use a long spatula and slide the salmon trout into the center of a flat cookie sheet (no edges). Once the fish is on the cookie sheet place the top side of the cookie rack face down on the fish and then, holding the cookie rack and the cookie sheet together flip them over 180°. The top side of the salmon trout package should now be face up on your cookie rack.
  11. Bake:
  12. Preheat the oven to 375°. Score the filo with 5 angled slits about 5 inches long each. Place the salmon in the oven and bake until the center of the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 165° and the filo is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

**You'll find fill dough in the frozen section of the supermarket. Buy it ahead of time and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This is very important! Keep the the fill covered with a very lightly moistened cloth.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus value per serving: 14. There are 6 servings.

Family Style Pesto Salmon Wrapped in Filo 2

This recipe is also posted at Hearth and SoulSimpleSupperTuesdayTotally Talented Tuesdays, and Full Plate Thursday


Wild Salmon with Pesto Wrapped in Filo

Salmon with Pesto Wrapped in Filo

Salmon with Pesto Wrapped in Filo


Last night a documentary called The River of No Return was on Nature, a PBS presentation. A wolf biologist named Isaac Babcock and his wife Bijornen, took a year trek along the Frank Church-River, in the Idaho Wilderness. As you can imagine, much of the show dealt wolves, but the biologist also spent time filming other species like birds and fish. The mountainous area is so pristine and the photography is gorgeous. It was especially moving to see the images of the salmon swimming upstream against the full force of the river having to jump into and over the waterfalls in their struggle to return to the spawning grounds. Salmon are born in fresh water then they live most of their lives in the ocean. They return to fresh water to lay their eggs. Their journey home is Homeric.

Watching that show last night made me feel that salmon was the perfect finish to our 38th power foods blog group. This fish is a symbol of power and strength. As a food it provides our bodies with essential anti-oxidants and vitamins. It has both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which are omega 3’s that help lower cholesterol, and are the components you’re looking for when you buy fish capsules. Check with your doctor to see the amount of DHA and EPA you should be taking. The salmon’s pink hue comes from the krill the fish eats which is full of powerful antioxidants like selenium, and astaxanthin. It’s also rich in vitamin D, B6, and B12. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it’s best to eat wild salmon. Farmed Atlantic salmon should be avoided because it poses environmental problems and doesn’t the same nutrients. Check the Monterrey Bay Aquarium page to see best choices when choosing.

If you’re looking for an easy, but delicious and memorable dinner to prepare, try wild salmon with pesto wrapped in filo. It’s easy to put together and it bakes in just 20 minutes. In this recipe the dough is brushed with olive oil, which is a healthier choice than brushing with butter or using puff pastry. And the pesto is dairy-free, cutting back on the additional fat and calories as these pouches are very filling.


Servings: 4                    Prep Time: 35 minutes                  Cooking Time: about 20 minutes


Equipment Needed:

Sheet pan

Cookie rack of same size

Pastry brush


Ingredients for Dairy-Free Pesto:

2 ounces fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups)

2 small tooth garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

Salt to taste



1 box filo dough

4 salmon filets, skin removed (5 to six ounces each)

1/3 cup pesto

1/2 to 3/4  cup olive oil


Procedure for the Pesto:

1. Place the garlic in a food processor and process 10 seconds. Add the salt, basil, and the pine nuts and then process a few seconds. Next, slowly add the olive oil.

2. Scrape the sauce into a small bowl and cover with plastic.


Filo dough with oil

Filo dough with oil

Procedure for the Salmon:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°

2. Line the sheet-pan with aluminum foil and then place the cookie rack in the pan.

3. Wash the fish filets and then pat them dry.

4. Lay down one sheet of filo dough horizontally on the counter and brush it with a thin layer of olive oil.

5. Lay a second layer of filo dough on top to the first sheet and brush it with the oil. Next, take the side end and fold it over so the corners meet. Brush the top with oil and lay a ½ sheet of dough over the top.


Salmon before wrapping

Salmon before wrapping

6. Spread 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of pesto on top of the dough about the same size as the salmon filet. Set the fish on top of the sauce and then brush the dough with oil. Fold in the sides of the dough, and brush the top with oil, and then set the fish pouch on the cookie rack. Make two angular slits in the top of the dough, each about 2 inches long. Repeat this whole procedure with the remaining filets.

7. Bake the fish pouches until they are golden brown —about 20 to 25 minutes.



Power Foods: 150 delicious recipes with the 38 healthiest ingredients


Today is the last day of our blog group which has been talking about and writing about  Power Foods: 150 Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, (from the editors at Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine). It’s been a lot of fun! I’d like to thank all the participants who have taken part in this collaborative effort, and especially to those who crossed the finish line. I’m looking forward to our next group hosted by Alyce at MoreTimeattheTable.blogspot. It will be a once monthly post and the subject is Ina Garten. If you would like to participate please contact Alyce at afmorgan53(at)


Check out what these other bloggers have cooked up!  Alyce – More Time at the Table, Ansh – Spice Roots,   Martha – Simple-Nourished-Living, Minnie – The Lady 8 Home, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits

 This posted can be seen at Full Plate Thursday, and the Pennywise Platter


Lemon Soy Salmon

Lemon Soy Salmon

Lemon Soy Salmon


Last night as I was preparing dinner and wondering what recipe I should blog about today, and it dawned on me, “Hey, why not post this healthy recipe for Lemon Soy Salmon.” There’s a side of me that tends to think that a good recipe needs to have lots of ingredients, or a special one, to make it a good recipe, when that’s really not the case. In fact, this is one of those recipes that I appreciate all the more for its simplicity. Other than salt, it has only five ingredients: salmon, olive oil, lemon juice, soy, and garlic. So, it’s easy to put together; it’s easy to cook on the grill; and, it’s very enjoyable to eat.

I don’t eat sushi because I don’t want to risk getting the parasite anisakis, from undercooked, or raw fish. In my post for perfectly cooked salmon, I spoke about the need to cook fish to an internal temperature of 145° in order to kill the parasite, but according to the FDA you can also kill the parasite by freezing at -4° for seven days. So, now instead of grilling the fish to 145°, I cook it to 142° or 143°. I feel that when you cook a salmon filet to the higher temperature it tends to dry the fish too much. My family and I really enjoy the flavor and texture more by cooking it to 142° and because it was previously frozen, I don’t have to worry about the parasite.

You can use a bi-metallic thermometer or a thermister to check the internal temperature.

bi-metalic thermometer

Bi-metalic thermometer

I use the bi-metallic type and I stick it horizontally through the fish (see picture below) to check the temperature.

Insert the thermometer horizontally through the fish

Insert the thermometer horizontally through the fish

Make sure that you insert the whole length of the stem into the fish. Enjoy this  delicious, healthy, and easy recipe!


Servings: 3

Prep Time: 10 minutes to pre-heat grill, 3 minutes to prep salmon

Cook Time: 8 minutes



3, 6-ounce, pre-frozen salmon filets

1-½ to 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (If using regular soy, don’t salt the fish.)

1-½  tablespoons minced garlic


For Dipping Sauce:

1 tablespoon lite soy

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Wash the fish filets and put them on a plate. Very lightly salt the filets, and then pour the 2 tablespoons soy sauce over them. Flip the filets in the soy to make sure they are well seasoned with the sauce.

2. Rub the garlic into the filets, and then rub a little olive oil in. Let the filets marinate will you heat the grill. Now, turn on the grill and let it pre-heat on high for 10 minutes, or until it is hot. You want to heat the grill to high to cook fish. If it is on low the fish will not sear, and then it is likely to get stuck to the grill and fall apart.

Marinate the salmon

Marinate the Salmon

3. When the grill is hot, scrape then grill to clean it, and then use your tongs to hold a lightly oiled paper towel  and wipe the grill with it.

4. Put the salmon filets face-down at a 45° angle. Let the salmon cook about 2 minutes and then  turn the fish to 180° angle. It should now be at a 45° angle, but facing the other direction. Cook about another 2 minutes.

5. Remove the fish with a spatula, and oil the grill again. Flip the salmon and let it finish cooking on the second side, about another 4 minutes. Check the temperature with the thermometer. I like it at 142°. If you don’t have a thermometer, use a fork or knife to lift a layer of meat to check for doneness.

To Serve – Garnish with lemon wedges, and serve with the dipping sauce (optional).


This recipe is posted at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Basil Chimichurri over Grilled Salmon


Basil Chimichurri over Salmon

Basil Chimichurri over Salmon


Chimichurri is a zippy dipping sauce eaten in the land of grilled meats,  Argentina. Many credit the origin of this sauce to the Argentinean cowboys,  gauchos,  who used dried herbs to make the sauce. Chimichurri can be green,  or red,  and it may be served with different types of meat. The ingredients may vary depending on the cooks palate,  but the basic ingredients for green chimichurri tend to be:  parsley,  garlic,  red pepper flakes,  red wine vinegar,  oregano,  onion,  salt,  and olive oil. Delicious!

Wanting to use up the leaves on my basil plant before it kicked the bucket­­ –an event easily foreseeable since I don’t have a green thumb,  I wondered how basil chimichurri would taste over salmon. Well,  no need to wonder any longer. It was fantastically yummy! It’s probably just as flavorful on cod,  tilapia,  or tuna. Try it.

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2.5 hours


Four 6 oz. Salmon filets

1 cup basil,  lightly packed

1 large tooth garlic,  (1-inch circumference)

1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8  teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil


1) Place the garlic and the pepper flakes in a food processor and process until the garlic minced. Add the basil and process 10 seconds. Next,  add the oil,  salt (scant ¼ teaspoon) and pepper,  and process a few seconds. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and refrigerate at least an hour.

2)  Smear a small amount of sauce onto both sides of the salmon filets and place them on a plate.  or in a quart-size baggie. Let them marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

3) Pre-heat the grill on high for 10 minutes,  and then brush the grill with oil.  Place the salmon skin side down on the grill,    and cook approximately 3 minutes. Flip the fish and continue cooking until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°,    approximately 2 more minutes.

To Serve: Accompany the salmon with a side of rice and spoon the remaining basil chimichurri over the fish.


Read more about the etymology and origin of chimichurri check out this blog link.

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Recipe: Perfectly Cooked Salmon

Perfectly Cooked Salmon

Perfectly Cooked Salmon

Salmon is a fish well-known for having cholesterol fighting omega 3’s. It’s a terrific for food for an anti-inflammation diet, and it’s a type of fish that people love to eat because it’s not “fishy,” like some of those white fish. But salmon, if not properly cooked, can become too dry and difficult to swallow.

I have two tips to help you to cook salmon perfectly. The first tip is to salt the fish and then rub olive oil, parsley, and garlic onto the fish. Then, let it marinade for two to four hours before cooking. Salting the fish helps to lock the moisture in. The second tip is to buy a thermister. A thermister is a digital thermometer that works well to take the temperature of thick cuts of meats, like steaks and roasts; and thin cuts of meat, like pounded chicken breasts. The FDA requires restaurants to cook fish filets to 145°F. By pre-salting your fish and using a thermister, you can lock the moisture in and safely cook salmon without overcooking. (You can purchase a thermister on Amazon for just under $30. No affiliation.) Try this recipe for the perfectly cooked salmon. Enjoy!


4 filets salmon, 6 ounces each


4 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoons garlic

1 ½ to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon or lime


1.) Rinse the salmon well with water and then pat dry with a paper towel. Place the fish on a plate. Salt the fish on both sides and then rub about 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil onto each fish filet. And then, rub in the garlic and parsley. Let the fish marinade in the refrigerator for two hours.

2.) Remove the salmon from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before cooking to allow it to warm up before cooking. Heat your grill. I use a flat indoor electric grill, but you can use a bar-b-que grill as well. When your grill is very hot put the salmon on the grill.

3.) Cook the salmon until you see that the sides of the fish appear cooked and moisture is forming on the top of the fish, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for approximately two more minutes. If you are using a thermister to check the temperature, stick the probe into the center of the filet. It is done when the temperature reaches 145° and you’ve left the fish to sit on the grill for another 15 seconds. Give it a squeeze of lemon and enjoy!


This makes a perfect accompaniment with Quinoa Pilaf with Pomegranate.

You can see this recipe on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Delectable Tuesdays