Cilantro Salmon

Cilantro Salmon

Last week I told Ranger Craig I’m in need of a field trip.  For those of you who don’t know Ranger Craig, he’s my main man, best bud, adventure partner, resident food critic and husband.  I had a reader ask me once if he was my boyfriend. (Hee hee, that gave me a good chuckle!)  So I went back to my about page and made it clear he’s legally mine. 🙂

Ranger Craig... with Charley, our Cessna 182

Ranger Craig is not a Forest Ranger. Although he’d love to be one.  He served in the US Army as an Army Airborne Ranger.  So, I call him Ranger Craig.  And he’s fearless. Which is why I don’t usually let him plan our little field trips lest we end up jumping out of an airplane and that’s where I draw the line.  I don’t mind flying in the airplane, I just don’t want to jump out of it.

I should have known his inclination for adventure years ago when our first date was a long hike up our local lone Mountain.  Ranger Craig came prepared. Hiking shorts, hiking shoes, appropriate hiking shirt, water canteen, one of those handy tool knifes just in case of an emergency, and would you believe he even had a few Band-Aids in his backpack.

Me? Adorable pink shorts, bright pink and white matching off the shoulder shirt (it was the 80’s), and gold sparkle sandals with hot pink painted toes. I looked great.  For about 10 minutes.

Fast forward twenty-five years and I’ve got my own water bottle, travel medical kit, sensible shoes and an appropriate outfit for every adventure occasion. Lucky for me, this field trip didn’t even require sensible shoes.  I could look cute and wear my favorite cowgirl boots.

My favorite boots from El Paso, Texas

The Glass Art Museum was breathtaking. Art beyond my imagination. I couldn’t wait to photograph every piece.  Until, to my huge disappointment, I spotted the “No Photography” sign.

Glass Art by Chihuly

I did manage a few snaps of the Chihuly Art display. Breathtaking.  So full of vibrant color it inspired my desire for a vibrantly colorful dinner.

And what better way to celebrate color, than with one of my favorite colors, green.  Fresh Pan Seared Salmon with bright spring green Cilantro Pesto.  It’s a plate licking good sauce that goes with anything.  Just like my favorite cowgirl boots.

Cilantro Salmon

Serves 4

For the Pesto:

1 large bunch cilantro, lower thicker stems trimmed (upper stems are fine in pureed pesto’s or sauces)

½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with walnuts)

1-2 cloves garlic

1 lemon juiced

¼ cup grated parmesan

Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

Salt to taste


Place the cilantro, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan in a blender or food processor.  As you pulse/puree the ingredients add the olive oil until the pesto is smooth.

Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

For The Salmon:

1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh wild salmon cut into 4 pieces

1-2 tablespoon high heat oil ( I love using Spectrum’s Asian flavored oil for pan searing salmon)

Salt and pepper

Lemon slices and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the oil.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

When the oil is hot add the salmon flesh side down. Let the salmon cook for about 3 minutes or until the salmon easily lifts off the pan.  It should be a lovely golden brown.

Flip the salmon skin side down and continue cooking until just pink inside, about another 3-4 minutes depending on thickness.

If the salmon is thick, turn the heat down to medium and cover with a lid and let the salmon finish cooking.  The salmon should lift off the pan easily, leaving the skin in the skillet.

Drizzle the pesto on a platter or plates and lay the skinless salmon filets on top and garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro and lemon slice.

This pesto is fantastic on grilled salmon and grilled chicken too! Enjoy 🙂



  1. this looks absolutey mouth watering!

  2. What a great history, thanks to share and all this pictures looks real good, salmon recipe with cilantro pesto….just fantastic…..:)

  3. Amazing food photography

  4. I love the idea of making a pesto from the cilantro we have in the garden, but I have never done it, so thank you so much for the recipe, we eat a lot of salmon and fish so this will be great! c

    • You are so welcome Cecilia! I hope you love the recipe. It’s a brightly flavored pesto and I think it’s great on most anything. 🙂 Have a lovely week!

  5. I don’t know what I like better…the story, the boots, the glass or the recipe. I guess I’ll just have to say it is a terrific post.

  6. A beautiful salmon dish that even Ranger Craig approves of 🙂 Love your blog, Karista!!

  7. That is a perfect plate of salmon! The pesto is a fantastic idea. And that picture of the glass – wow!

  8. What gorgeous glass, cute boots, cute ranger and perfect salmon! The cilantro pesto sounds so fresh tasting and though I’d never thought of pairing cilantro and salmon, I know it must taste amazing. I may try this and grill the salmon.

    • Thank you! We are big salmon eaters at my house and most of the time can get it fresh right off the boat. A little cilantro pesto and dinner is done. 🙂

  9. Great recipe! Love the pesto.

  10. mountainmamacooks says:

    Agreed, those boots are fantastic! And that sauce looks facial worthy!

  11. mountainmamacooks says:

    Agreed, the boots are fantastic. What a sweet story about your boyfriend, er, husband. 🙂 That sauce looks facial worthy!

  12. I am sure Ranger Rick is going to love this salmon dish with all the vibrant colors. The bright green and pink is very vibrant, just like your cool cowgirl boots. Take Care, BAM

  13. Your vibrant pesto is very reminiscent of the colorful glass sculptures.. only you get to eat yours, I bet the artists wishes they had this plate!! I have some salmon in my fridge.. and some cilantro.. I may be whipping this up tomorrow!

  14. Oh my lord that looks SO GOOD. Coriander is my second favourite herb, I just know I’d adore this. I’ve never had it with salmon actually.

  15. Those boots are rad! Killer

  16. salmon is my favorite food. thanks!

  17. Such a gorgeous story of your hiking date with Ranger Craig those years back! I think I can relate to that story, as could many others I think! Beautiful glass work and food too, cilantro (coriander) is our absolute favourite herb of choice!

  18. The salmon looks so good! Never had it with cilantro before, I guess I must try it with your pesto.

  19. Loved the segue from colourful glass into colourful salmon on a bed of pesto – AND it looks delicious.

  20. This looks lovely. I think we’ll have to try it. I’m allergic to fish, but I’ll bet my hubby is game. Great boots too, BTW.

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