Wild Salmon with Heirloom Tomato Jam & Kale-Cashew Pesto

Classic BC dish from Chef Ned Bell, Ocean Wise Chef at the Vancouver Aquarium, and enthusiastic Toyota RAV4 Hybrid driver.

“Classic pesto is usually made with basil and toasted pine nuts, but here I’ve gone with herbaceous kale, whose mild bitterness is offset by the gentle sweetness of cashews. (Jar some of this delicious green paste to use with any firm fish, such as rockfish, albacore tuna, or sturgeon.) For the tomato jam and confit, reach for the sweetest heirloom cherry tomatoes you can find. Sweet 100 and Sun Gold are two of my favorite choices.”


Image - Wild Salmon with Heirloom Tomato Jam & Kale-Cashew Pesto
Wild Salmon with Heirloom Tomato Jam and Kale-Cashew Pesto
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 people
Heirloom tomato jam and confit
  • 3 pints about 7 cups heirloom-style cherry tomatoes (divided)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
Kale-cashew pesto
  • 1/2 bunch kale stems removed and leaves torn (about 3 cups)
  • 6 cups spinach leaves
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 4 to 5 oz skinless salmon fillets
  • Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon halved
  • Chopped toasted cashews for garnish
Heirloom tomato jam and confit
  1. For the tomato jam, in a medium saucepan combine 4 cups of the tomatoes, water, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and cooked through. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. For the tomato confit, in the same saucepan combine the remaining 3 cups tomatoes, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce to low and gently cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes just start to lose their skins. Remove and discard the rosemary.
Kale-cashew pesto
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Set a large bowl of ice water nearby. Add the kale and spinach to the boiling water, and blanch for 45 seconds. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer immediately to the ice water. When completely cool, drain.
  2. In a blender, combine the blanched greens, olive oil, cashews, hot water, Parmesan, and salt and pepper, and puree until smooth.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

    Use paper towels to pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Carefully lay the fish in the pan. (If necessary, cook the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding, which will keep the fish from caramelizing properly.) Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 minute or until a golden crust forms on the flesh. Flip the fillets over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 3 to 4 minutes or until fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily.

  3. Remove from the oven and add the butter to the pan. Allow it to melt while you squeeze the lemon over the fish. Use a spoon to baste each fillet with the buttery juices for about 1 minute. Transfer the fish to a plate.

  4. Spoon the tomato jam onto each plate, add the salmon, and top with a spoonful of pesto and tomato confit.

  5. Garnish with the cashews.