Wood Fired Salmon with Arugula Pesto and Tomato Confit

We recycle, bring our own shopping bags to the grocery store, and have replaced our regular light bulbs with energy saving fluorescent light bulbs.  “Organic”, “local”, and “free range” have become more than just buzz words;  people are starting to have a better understand of the importance of  purchasing chemical free produce and meat from farmers who practice  good animal husbandry. Awareness has grown, and our purchasing practices are changing.
But when it comes to fish; how they are caught, and what is left behind when they are taken from the water, do people really have an understanding of what sustainable means?
What does sustainable fish mean to you?
Here’s what Green Peace has to say: “In simple terms, a sustainable fishery is one whose practices can be maintained indefinitely without reducing the targeted species’ ability to maintain its population at healthy levels, and without adversely impacting on other species within the ecosystem – including humans – by removing their food source, accidentally killing them, or damaging their physical environment.”
I think that pretty much sums it up. As responsible humans on this planet, we have to be care takers, and start making decisions that have a positive impact on our planet. When we open our wallets to pay for the food we purchase, whether in a market, or in a restaurant, what we choose to buy affects the way things will continue. If we give our money to those who pole catch albacore, that’s where our fish will come from. If we say we aren’t going to give our money to those who ravish the oceans, maybe those practices will go away. It’s all about the power of our choice, and the effects those decisions have upon our environment.
What can we do to help save our oceans for generations to come?

Make ocean friendly seafood choices when you go to the market or to a restaurant.
So how do you know what kinds of fish to buy, and which fish to avoid?
There are several excellent resources out there:

Fish To Fork The campaigning restaurant guide for people who want to eat fish – sustainably.

Seafood Watch Pocket Guide providing valuable information on best choices, good alternatives, and fish to avoid.

For this month’s 5 Star Foodie challenge, Sustainable Fish I decided to feature  salmon, one of America’s most popular fishes,  for its flavor and its health benefits; rich in omega 3.

When it comes to purchasing salmon, the sustainable choice is to buy wild Alaskan salmon.  It’s caught from a healthy wild stock with sustainable methods, is free of contaminants, and avoids the problems with farmed salmon, which can not only pollute local waters near the farm but also be polluted themselves because of the fish meal they’re fed.

Wild caught salmon tastes incredible all on its own, but  here is  a recipe that gets you out using your grill, and enjoying the subtle hints of smoke from using cedar planks.

This dish makes an excellent entree for entertaining too. The peppery arugula pesto, and slow roasted tomatoes may be made ahead of time, which means you will have more time with your guests!

Happy cooking~









Wood Fired Salmon with Arugula Pesto and Tomato Confit

Tomato Confit

3 pounds large plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed

4 large fresh thyme sprigs

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt


Arugula Pesto:

4 cups fresh arugula

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


2 (1 1/2-2  pounds) salmon fillets

2 cedar planks

For tomato confit:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Oil large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange tomatoes on baking sheet. Scatter thyme sprigs and garlic cloves over. Drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake tomatoes 45 minutes. Turn tomatoes over; continue to bake until tomatoes shrink slightly but are still plump and moist, about 1 hour longer. Cool completely. Peel off skins. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)


For pesto:

Combine arugula, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add pine nuts and Parmesan cheese to mixture and blend until incorporated.

Makes 2 cups

For salmon:

Begin soaking cedar planks (fully submerged) in water at least 2 hours before using. Set grill to to medium-high heat. Place salmon on each of the cedar planks. Spoon half of the arugula pesto over each salmon fillet, spreading evenly over fish.

Place the  cedar planks in the center of the hot grate.  Cover the grill and cook until cooked through, around 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature should read 135 degrees F.  Cut each salmon fillet into 4 portions. Using a spatula, separate the fish from the skin, lifting onto each plate. Top with tomato confit.

8 servings



18 thoughts on “Wood Fired Salmon with Arugula Pesto and Tomato Confit”

  1. Well-written and informative post. You are a true champion for sustainability. Wish more people would realize how important a topic it is.

    Love the flavor profile of your dish, the salmon on the cedar with the arugula pesto, just lovely.

    However, there is something so simple, yet so alluring about the combination of plum tomatoes, thyme, garlic and olive oil. One of my all time favorites.

  2. This looks and sounds amazing. I have tons of tomatoes but no salmon. I’m thinking about making the confit to toss with pasta tonight anyways though.

    Thanks for the info about sustainable fish. I find this to be a difficult issue when grocery shopping since I’m never entirely sure what the good and bad choices are and so much of the fish in my local shops seems to come from far away (even though I live in Florida!). I will tack the above-mentioned guide to my Deadly Dozen sheet so that I am sure to have it when I shop from now on. I think it will really help.

  3. Debi, thank you so much for your wonderful information on sustainability! I adore making salmon on a cedar plank, such excellent flavors with the arugula pesto and tomatoes too, nice!

  4. So happy I found your site. We live in Hawaii and we have so much ono (brought in by the tsunami)this week. Have already tried your crispy fish with lemon basil and the chipotle beurre blanc. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Friends caught a mahi mahi today and I think it can stand up to the pesto and the tomato confit. Wish you were in my neighborhood;) Thanks Debi for doing what you do! Kelly

  5. What a beautiful dish. I’ve never been a big fish eater, but this month’s makeover has really inspired me to try new flavors! I absolutely love the arugula pesto! Arugula is one of my favorite greens, but I’ve never considered making a pesto with it. And the sweetness from the tomato confit- what a combination!

  6. Not only is wild Alaskan salmon the best choice for environmental responsibility, it really is the tastiest! I’ve become a salmon snob and it’s all I buy. Fortunately, even at Sam’s club or BJ’s, I can wonderful tasting frozen wild Alaskan salmon from responsible companies. Arugula is my favorite green, and the tomato confit sounds so intriguing – what a wonderful dish!

  7. I have never had this with tomato on it always sweet salsa like. This really caught my eye. I can’t imagine the flavors although on this although I have had all these combination on top of filet mignon. So I really cant wait to try it.. I always roast my tomatoes for tomato pie as well.. this sauce is just perfect for any topping!

  8. This looks heavenly, Debi. 🙂 I haven’t had salmon in a while but I have a lovely piece from my aunt and uncle after their annual fishing trip that would be scrumptious made like this! 🙂 Love that tomato confit too. Mmm.

  9. You put it so well, I don’t think people realize that the cheap salmon they buy is farmed and, although it seems sustainable, the practices are very harmful. The new proviso for fish and meat may be eat less, eat better and reward those who try to do a good job with their stewardship of the land and the oceans and waterways. We bloggers can make a difference by heightening awareness.

    Delicious looking dish… I love arugula pesto but have never tried it with salmon. The colors are really spectacular… what a great idea to do the cedar plank… just like native americans taught our ancestors.

  10. Hi Debi – great addition to this month’s cooking club. I went back and forth between halibut and salmon for this post. Glad to see you made salmon AND cooked it on a cedar plank! Very nice!

  11. Debi,
    Great entry. It’s also a super green choice which I only found out existed due to this challenge. I’m most intrigued with the arugula pesto. We grow basil all summer, but in winter, basil gets expensive and this is an awesome idea. You did a very elegant presentation.

  12. what an incredibly pretty dish. the pesto might change my mind about arugula since i’m not a huge fan. and i most def. love the tomato confit. I like the way you broke down the issues and concerns with sustainability and what we can do about it. i’m so glad we’re bringing awareness to ourselves and our readers!

  13. I never knew some of this information. I am always confused about which salmon to buy. Thank you for the information as well as another salmon recipe to add to my collection. Yum.

  14. I’ve never eaten fish cooked on cedar planks, much less tried using cedar planks myself – definitely one for the list. And that tomato confit is one for the list too, whenever nice big juicy tomatoes are next in season over here.

  15. How can I not love a dish that combines tomato confit and pesto! I completely agree that it would be the perfect entertaining dish for guests! You did a wonderful job on the makeover!

  16. I haven’t cook on a cedar plank in a long time, and I need to bring it back into the rotation. Love your post on sustainable seafood– one of our local health food stores carries farmed salmon from a sustainable farm, and it’s delish! I’m a bad Food Hound and I don’t care for wild sockeye like many do.

  17. Holy moly does this look good. I agree that wild salmon is good all by itself, but your additions have elevated it to a whole other level of goodness. Yummmmmm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.