Barbecued Salmon With Tree Tip Pesto

(Except from Dana and Lindsay, FEAST - Recipes & Stories From A Canadian Road Trip, Penguin Random House, 2017) What could be more Canadian than eating a tree? As we made our way across the country, spruce and fir tips kept popping up and flaunting their culinary uses. Foraging for them is easy...unless you are us. On our first attempt we went too late in the season to a forest with no spruce trees, got caught in a rainstorm, and came home soaking wet with nothing but empty buckets. Though it may take one or two springtime hikes to get the timing right, you want to get the new, bright green buds at the ends of the branches. You can store any excess tips in the freezer for several months. An extra piece of advice: if you just missed the season, head to a higher elevation where the springs new growth is slightly later. We'd like to say thanks to our friend Joel, who happily endured the rainy first foraging trek with us, then later picked the fir tips we used for this recipe. Spruce or fir tips will work for this pesto - whatever your forest happens to provide.


  • 1 cup packed fresh (or frozen and thawed) spruce or fir tips or 2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano grated, then measured
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 to 6 wild salmon fillets, skin on, deboned
For Serving:
  • Plain yogurt, 6% or higher


  1. In a blender or food processor, combine spruce tips, Parmigiano, salt, olive oil, walnuts, lemon juice and garlic. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat barbecue to medium-high (450°F). Place fish, skin-side down on the grill and close lid. Cook 3 minutes until skin is crispy and edges of fish are opaque. Carefully turn each fillet over, close lid and let cook 2 – 3 minutes longer. Fish will be opaque and flake easily when done.
  3. Serve with spoonfuls of pesto and a dollop of yogurt if desired. This dish is delicious served with a green salad or spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes or fiddleheads.


Makes 4 to 6 portions

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