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.
- 2 cups basil, well packed
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- **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.
- 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.