Roasted Wild Salmon with Caramelized Fennel and Fennel-Frond Pesto

roasted wild salmon with caramelized fennel and fennel-frond pesto served with lemon wedges
Photo: Paola + Murray
Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins

As this this easy and elegant recipe for roasted wild salmon demonstrates, fennel with seafood is a match made in food-pairing heaven. Salmon fillets are topped with pesto-yogurt sauce and lemony breadcrumbs and roasted alongside sliced fennel that caramelizes in the oven. For a fresh finish, more of the bright and creamy pesto—made with fennel fronds and pistachios—is set on the table for guests to help themselves.



  • 1 small clove garlic

  • ½ cup shelled pistachios

  • 4 heads fennel, 2 cups fronds separated, bulbs cut into 1-inch wedges

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • Kosher salt

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • ½ teaspoon ground fennel seed


  • 2 lemons

  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 8 skinless 1-inch-thick wild-salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)

  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt


  1. Pesto: Turn on a food processor and drop garlic through tube; process until finely chopped. Add pistachios and pulse until coarsely ground. Add fennel fronds, lemon zest, fennel seed, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; pulse to combine. With machine running, gradually add both oils until combined. (Pesto can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.)

  2. Salmon: Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Using a rasp, zest 1 lemon (you should have 2 teaspoons), then cut into 1/8-inch-thick wheels. Cut second lemon into wedges. Toss panko with 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in lemon zest.

  3. Toss fennel wedges with remaining 3 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly onto two rimmed baking sheets and roast, rotating sheets once, until golden brown in spots, 30 to 35 minutes. Flip fennel, add lemon wheels, drizzle with oil, and roast 5 minutes more.

  4. Meanwhile, season fish with salt and pepper. Mix together yogurt and 3 tablespoons pesto; spread a thin layer of mixture over fish. Sprinkle panko mixture over top, patting gently to adhere.

  5. Remove fennel from oven; push fennel and lemons aside to create room, then add fish. Roast until fish is almost completely opaque in center, about 8 minutes. Serve fish with fennel and roasted lemon wheels, more pesto, and lemon wedges.

Cook's Notes

Be sure to purchase fennel with the fronds still attached.

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