When you work in a restaurant, you tend to make a list of tasks you enjoy and others that you hate. I remember taking my sweet time stuffing squash blossoms while working quickly to finish halving baby cherry tomatoes. One item on the prep list that many cooks disliked was making the basil pistou. Pistou is a sauce very similar to pesto except for the lack of nuts. Traditionally, pistou is prepared with a mortar and pestle, hence the dislike of many who had to prepare it. Since I'm not working in the restaurant anymore, I can take the shortcut and prepare this pistou in a flash, while still preserving the flavor. Top it on any protein like this salmon quinoa salad with basil pistou and you have one incredibly flavorful salad!
Salmon Quinoa Salad with Basil Pistou
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup boiling water
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 garlic clove
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tomato peeled, seeded, and diced
- ¾ ounces parmesan cheese grated
- 1 cup quinoa uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 2 ears corn roasted
- 1 ounce shisito peppers
- 1 bunch uplandcress
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 lb salmon fillet
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- Make the quick pickled onions. Combine boiling water with vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the red onions and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pistou. Pound garlic with salt in a mortar and pestle until resembles a paste. Add basil and pound until almost smooth. Slowly pour the olive oil while still pounding the mixture. Add the tomatoes and cheese and pound until mixture comes together. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Combine quinoa with water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat, keep covered for 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
- Heat nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Lay shishito peppers in the pan, making sure there is enough space between the peppers. Char until blistered, rotating the peppers. Remove from heat. Chop when cool enough to handle.
- In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay in pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip fish over and cook until fish easily flakes with a fork.
- Toss quinoa with corn, shishito peppers, and upland cress. Drizzle olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Portion quinoa salad into 4 bowls. Top with pan seared salmon, drizzle on the basil pistou, and sprinkle crumbled feta and the pickled onions. Serve hot or cold.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I put together this recipe while cleaning out my fridge, but enjoyed it so much, I had to share it with you.
Quinoa is a great source of protein. It's versatile and can even cook in the rice cooker. Throw it together with charred shishito peppers, sweet corn, and upland cress and you have a summer bowl of flavors. Add pan-fried salmon and homemade basil pistou and you have a completely different yet equally delicious dish!
Basil pistou is a great alternative for those who may be allergic to nuts. It's a bit tart and sweet from the tomatoes while still preserving the flavors of the basil. If you have a mortar and pestle, by all means, use it (some say it tastes better when prepared the traditional way). Otherwise, use a food processor to make this condiment in a flash.
Vegetarian? Skip the fish but mix the pistou right into the salad. Gluten-free? Well, this is the perfect dish for you! Looking for something healthy? Look no further! This salmon quinoa salad with basil pistou is the dish that meets all requirements and still tastes great.
For more salmon inspiration check out this Hawaiian-style salmon!