The Simplest Poached Salmon with Pesto and Feta

by Andie Mitchell on August 22, 2011


Listen, I swoon over salmon in restaurants

The chef pan sears her in some perfectly piping fat, to a fiery pink crust,

bakes her to a buttery, slippery center,

broils her, even,

just ‘til her flakes feel melting on my tongue.


But at home, all the salmon I prepare myself is less lovable.

She’s never as tender, not nearly as succulent, far from delicate.

Somehow she’s slightly overcooked, a little tough, verging on chewy, and, quite honestly, a little miffed to be sitting so close to potatoes on my plate.

But then.

I found a way to prepare her so that she gently steams, leaving her middle moist and soft, while turning the faintest, rosiest shade of orange. I poach her in a mix of stock and wine, and let her absorb the zing of fresh sliced garlic.

And while the filet is still steaming hot and just barely opaque inside, I smear basil pesto over her and sprinkle salty feta on top just so that it will melt a bit and seep between the cracks of her delicate skin.

It’s the simplest, surest way to keep this deliciously oily fish as silky as she’s meant to be.

Looks gourmet and tastes oh so good.


The Simplest Poached Salmon with Pesto and Feta


  • 1 lb salmon filet
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Bring the chicken stock and wine to a gentle boil in a large dutch oven (any two inch deep pan with a tight fitting lid).
  2. Add the salmon filet and lay the garlic slices evenly over the top to coat the fish. Cover with the pan’s lid and let the fish simmer in the hot stock for 7 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it flakes as you press the flesh with a fork.
  3. Remove the fish from the pan immediately, discard garlic, and spread evenly with pesto while the fish is still hot. Sprinkle with feta. Serve.

serves 3-4

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Cynthia (It All Changes) August 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Salmon was a mainstay in my diet for years. My favorite way to cook it was on a cedar plank. Perfect for dinner and my salad the next day.

I love your combination of awesome salty feta and salmon.


Linda August 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm

That recipe sounds great. I usually just put the salmon to the oven and let it be there. And I wouldn’t discard garlic. I love garlic so much. :) Garlic goes great with feta.
And salmon is best when it’s left just a little bit red inside. Then it’s so moisture and tender.

Thanks for the great recipe!


Patricia August 23, 2011 at 12:55 am

I love it that something as beautiful as salmon has to be a ‘her’, dressed up in garlic and feta… such a diva too.
Can’t wait to try this.


Heather (Heather's Dish) August 23, 2011 at 4:51 am

i adore restaurant salmon too…the crust and the flakiness and the juices…oh my!


Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray August 23, 2011 at 5:28 am

I’m not a huge fish person, but this looks amazing. I really want to love fish, maybe I’ll start with this recipe :)


Katie August 23, 2011 at 6:24 am

I have the same problem when I try to make salmon at home. Your recipe looks just perfect, and I’ve got a bunch of basil pesto at home right now that I was hoping to use up. Thanks for this great idea!


Linda K August 23, 2011 at 6:51 am

Mmm…I love salmon and will be sure to try this asap!


The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh August 23, 2011 at 6:55 am

Oh yeah babe! Nothing like a good, moist, flavorful salmon. I love to do mine similarly but in a foil pan on the grill with some hickory chips in the smoker box. As long as you don’t mind smelling like a campfire, it’s wonderful! :) Can’t wait to give your version a try!


Biz August 23, 2011 at 6:59 am

Andie, I don’t even like salmon but after reading this post I may have to give it a try again! :D


Alexa @ Simple Eats August 23, 2011 at 7:26 am

This combines three of my favorite things ever. Feta and pesto and salmon?! You stole my heart.


Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy August 23, 2011 at 7:33 am

I am pretty excited to try this as I just bought some Wild Alaskan Salmon. It’s like the Salmon Gods were speaking to me…


Stacy August 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

I’m a GRILLED Salmon Girl but you’ve inspired me to try poaching it. THANKS


Gina August 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

I would have never paired pesto and feta with salmon…but now I totally want to try it!


sara August 24, 2011 at 6:15 am

Yu-ummmmm!! I’m dancing around in my chair because I love salmon just that much. Thanks so much for the poaching how-to! I usually cook my salmon in a skillet or in the oven, and I’ve been disappointed too. I’m so trying this out asap!


Megan (Braise The Roof) August 24, 2011 at 8:45 am

I love salmon- this is such a good idea! I usually just broil it and while it comes out ok, I’m definitely in need of a new prep method. :) And so fancy!


adrianne (all of the above) August 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

This looks tasty! I actually have salmon in my lunch today, fancy that :) The recent popular method of preparation in our house is to put salmon on a big sheet of tin foil, cover in herbs (usually dill and parsley), garlic, lemon, fold up the foil so the salmon is nice and cozy inside, and stick in the oven for 15 minutes. It goes fabulously, hot or cold, with a little tzatziki on the side! Yum. I’m going to have to try this one out though! Anything with pesto is cool in my book.


Lauren August 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

yes, please! :)


Jeannette September 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

We LOVED this. My 12 year old even loved this. It was moist and succulent and the pesto and feta lent it a buttery taste. Delish! Had roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts alongside it. I will have to try to resist the daughter’s pleas to have it again within the week.

I put together the basic nutrition info (from, so take however many grains of salt you need). For 1/3 of the recipe: 292 calories, 14g fat, 1.8g carbs, 32.8g protein.


Adrienne December 7, 2011 at 7:41 am

I made this for dinner last night. The recipe was so simple I was wondering if it would be as delish as it looked. It was delightful. I feel like running to the store for more salmon now! Nom! Thanks!


Lynn February 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm

So I thought we were having your pork chops tonight, but (ahem) that involved driving to the store for pork chops. Something dear son normally loves to do. However, he took one look at the rain and said, “meh”. So the broccoli is now roasting, but the pork chops will have to wait for another night. I have salmon that I just pulled out of the freezer, and I actually tried making pesto a couple of days ago, but I have no white wine for the poaching liquid. You probably won’t see this before I have to cook, but I’m wondering if I could substitute a red wine for poaching? It wouldn’t be so bad, color wise, with salmon… I think I would use less than I would a white, so as not to overpower – but it is salmon, after all… Not sure if I will try it or not, I’ll post back the results if I do. If you happen to see this soon and can respond with your opinion, that would be lovely, but if not, please don’t feel bad! I’m the one sans pork chops! :)

PS I enjoyed Camille’s birthday post. You two really do a nice job of enjoying – and understanding – life. I’m glad you guys share your voices with the world!


Lynn February 12, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Ok, so I used red wine, and it was just lovely!


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