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20 Minute Pan-Seared Salmon with Arugula Pesto from The Food Charlatan

20 Minute Pan-Seared Salmon with Arugula Pesto

This easy 20 minute dinner is the perfect healthy back-to school meal! The quick arugula pesto is not traditional (no oil! no nuts! ) but it packs a punch!
Course Main Course
Cuisine seafood
Prep Time 6 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 314kcal
Author Karen


  • 3 cups arugula packed
  • top half of one bunch of green onions roughly chopped*
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch red pepper flakes use at least 1/8 teaspoon if you want a kick
  • 4-6 salmon filets
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon flour per filet
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh lemon wedges for serving
  • more arugula to serve with


  • First make the pesto. Add arugula, green onions, lemon juice, water, sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, pepper, salt, basil, and red pepper flakes to a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Taste it and see what you think!
  • Pat salmon filets dry and sprinkle the skin side with salt and pepper. Dust each filet with about a half teaspoon flour.
  • Spread each with about 1 teaspoon of the arugula pesto.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  • When the oil is very hot, place 2-3 salmon filets skin (and pesto) side down in the hot skillet. (Don't crowd the pan, you don't want them to steam. Do it in batches if you don't have room. I used a 12-inch skillet and only did 3 at a time.)
  • Cook over high heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until there is a nice sear on the bottom. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper, flour, and another teaspoon of pesto, then flip.
  • Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then remove from heat. Let sit in the pan for another couple minutes.
  • Serve on a bed of arugula, with a fresh squeeze of lemon and a few spoonfuls of the pesto.
  • This is really great with a green salad, crusty bread, roasted potatoes, or even some simple pasta.


*Wash your bunch of green onions, then look at just the green part. Chop the green part in half. The roughly chop that and add it to the food processor.
Source: this recipe is from my brother Nathan. Kinda. Here is a copy of his exact email: "Blend raw arugula, raw scallion and water. Mix with spices, a teensy bit of mayo, and sour cream. It should be fairly runny--not thick. Serve with fresh lemon over salmon." The recipe above is my translation of this :)


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 284mg | Potassium: 945mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 618IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg