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a bowl of gemelli pasta with pesto and salmon

Baked Pesto Salmon with Gemelli Pasta

  • Author: Jenny Meier | Kitchen Skip blog
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 12
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


Baked Pesto salmon with gemelli pasta is an easy dinner that's delicious served warm or cold. 

Basil pesto is swirled into mayonnaise to create a creamy dressing for the pasta and to give the salmon and extra boost of flavor and moisture as it cooks.  I use gemelli pasta (short, thin spirals) for this recipe, but any type of pasta will work just fine. 

This recipe was updated 5/20/2021


  • 8 ounces dried gemelli pasta (or your favorite pasta shape)
  • 1 to 2 handfuls baby spinach 
  • 1.5 pounds salmon
  • 1 cup basil pesto (store-bought, or see recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 

Basil Pesto Ingredients 

  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves 
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2.5 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese* 
  • 4 cups loosely packed basil leaves (3 to 4 ounces)
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil 

*the pesto can be made with only parmesan cheese, but pecorino adds more flavor


Basil Pesto Instructions

  1. In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, pine nuts and grated cheese
  2. Add the basil
  3. With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Continue to process until the pesto reaches a consistency that you like (either slightly chunky or completely smooth). Add salt to taste. 

Baked Pesto Salmon & Pasta 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place the salmon on a baking sheet. Season the salmon lightly with salt.
  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain pasta in a colander.
  4. Immediately add baby spinach to the drained pasta and toss with tongs so that the heat of the pasta slightly wilts the spinach. Toss the pasta and wilted spinach in a very light coating of olive oil. Set aside to cool.
  5. Whisk together the pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice
  6. Mix HALF of the pesto mayo with the cooled pasta and spinach.
  7. Spread the remaining pesto mayo over the salmon fillets
  8. Bake the salmon until it easily flakes apart with a fork (about 10 to 12 minutes)
  9. Flake the salmon into the pasta and gently toss again.
  10. Add salt to taste. Add more mayonnaise if you'd like the pasta to be creamier. 




This gemelli pasta with salmon is meant to be served at room temperature or cold, rather than hot. For this reason, the noodles are cooked first then cool slightly while the salmon bakes. 

This pesto salmon and pasta is also good chilled, directly from the refrigerator.







  • Category: salmon
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Keywords: gemelli pasta, pesto salmon, baked pesto salmon, pesto mayonnaise