Pesto Salmon Lasagna

Pesto Salmon Lasagna has succulent salmon layered with sun-dried tomato, parmesan bechamel sauce, creamy ricotta with pesto and herbs, cheese, and tender pasta. This decadent dish is perfect for a Sunday dinner, romantic meal, or any occasion when you want to show extra love to someone special.

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close view of a spatula holding a large square of pesto salmon lasagna to show the layers

Why this recipe works

Lasagna always feels daunting to make, like it’s going to take so much effort and you have to have that whole inner conversation to get motivated. And by “you”, I mean me. Like with my Classic Lasagna. That’s because it has “elements” and we have to make each element, then assemble all the layers… So yeah, lasagna is not a dish we just whip up.

Lasagna is, however, worthy of your time, and by breaking each element down, the prep becomes much more approachable and much less of a chore. Salmon lasagna is easier to make than my Classic Lasagna because 1) we simply bake the salmon – easy peasy; 2) we mix the ricotta filling and the panko topping while the salmon is baking – also, easy peasy; and 3) we make the parmesan sauce while the pasta is cooking – easy peasy again.

This recipe works because each element is quick to make and the flavors marry together so beautifully. Simple and elegant, Pesto Salmon Lasagna is a special event.

cooked lasagna in glass bake dish

About the ingredients

Yeah there’s a lot of ingredients, not gonna lie. Each has a particular purpose though, and with the mild cheeses, sauce, and fish, we need all these ingredients together for our harmonious lasagna.

Note that there is quite a bit of seasoning, particularly salt. This is because the pasta itself is not seasoned, so the other elements have to bring the seasoning punch to compensate.

For the salmon

Purchase salmon with the skin still on. Then we season the top of the fish generously with Old Bay seafood seasoning, kosher salt and black pepper. The skin protects the underside of the fish and the seasonings protect the top side (and of course add flavor). This gives us buttery perfect salmon.

collage of 2 photos: left, uncooked, seasoned salmon on parchment paper; right, cooked salmon on parchment

For the pesto ricotta

With the fatty fish, creamy parmesan sauce, and all the cheese, we add some brighter ingredients to the ricotta to “cut” the heavier flavors. These are onion, basil, parsley, and, of course, pesto. Then there are seasonings: black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder. Finally, to give the ricotta some structure as it bakes, we add an egg.

prepared pesto ricotta in metal bowl with spoon

For the panko topping

For texture and a lovely bit of crunch, we make a simple panko-cheese topping: parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, Old Bay seafood seasoning, and a bit of olive oil. This recipe uses fresh parmesan from the dairy section of the grocery store (not the kind in the green can which won’t melt). It also uses plain breadcrumbs, not seasoned. A bit of melted butter or ghee are alternatives for the olive oil.

prepared panko topping in white bowl with spoon

For the parmesan bechamel sauce

This is a standard, basic bechamel sauce made with butter, flour, milk, and kosher salt. Then we spruce her up with Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, and parmesan cheese and she is gorgeous. Use additional milk to thin the sauce if it gets too thick on you while cooking. You also have to babysit bechamel while it thickens because it can scorch and ruin quickly if you are not looking.

wood spoon in bechamel to show consistency of the suace

For the rest of the lasagna

This is a lasagna, so we of course have lasagna noodles. This salmon lasagna has more pasta layers than my classic lasagna recipe, it has milder flavor so as to not overpower the fish, plus it doesn’t have a bulky meat sauce to fill the pan. So, be sure to use good quality lasagna noodles because they are a major flavor in this recipe.

Then we have two cheeses: mozzarella and provolone, as well as sun-dried tomato. The sun-dried tomato gives chewy texture and a bit of sweet/tart yumminess that goes amazing with salmon.

How to prepare salmon lasagna

The full instructions are in the recipe card below, but I wanted to give a bit more guidance on timing. This is because with organization and efficiently following the steps in succession, this recipe goes from daunting to actually not hard at all and relatively quick to prepare (for a lasagna).

collage of 2 photos: left, pasta layer in bake dish topped with salmon, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese; right, same as the left but also topped with bechamel sauce
collage of 2 photos: left, 3 lasagna noodles in bake dish; right, the noodles topped with pesto ricotta
collage of 2 photos: left, the last layer of filling with salmon, tomato, cheese, and ricotta; right, the fully prepared lasagna (topped with cheese and panko mixture) ready for the oven
In the last salmon layer, we are including the last of the pesto ricotta as well, unlike the preceding layers where there was a layer of pasta between the two. This is due to how many noodles come in a 1-lb box and because of the size of the bake dish.

Here is a list to show the flow of making this lasagna:

Heat up the oven

  1. Put on the oven to heat and also put a large pot of water to come to a boil.
  2. While the oven is heating, prep and season the salmon.
  3. Gather the remaining ingredients. It helps to organize as well (have the cheeses together, the seasonings, herbs, etc).

Bake the salmon

  1. While salmon is baking, mix up the pesto ricotta.
  2. Also while the salmon is baking, mix up the panko topping.

Boil the lasagna noodles

  1. While the pasta is cooking, make the bechamel sauce by making a roux, then adding the milk. Once that thickens, add the parmesan, both mustards, and salt.
  2. Drain the pasta and rinse with cool water.
    This stops the pasta from cooking further and prevents the noodles from sticking together.

Assemble the lasagna and bake.

By following the flow above, most of the preparation occurs while the oven is heating, while the salmon is baking, and then while the pasta is cooking. So, what seems like it will take hours to prepare, is, in fact, in the oven to cook in about 45 minutes.

TIP: The salmon can be baked a day in advance. Also, the pesto ricotta and the panko topping can both be prepped a day in advance. Store each, covered, in the refrigerator.

cooked lasagna in glass bake dish

What to serve with salmon lasagna

Pesto salmon lasagna would go wonderfully with each of these recipes below. I recommend easy vegetables or salads with Italian-inspired flair to go with this recipe.

FAQs

Can salmon lasagna be frozen?

Since this recipe uses seafood, I do not recommend freezing it.

Can no bake lasagna noodles be used?

This is not an overly saucy recipe, so I do not recommend using no bake noodles.

Can other seafood or can chicken be used instead of salmon?

Absolutely yes! Shrimp would work very well in this lasagna, as would chicken. As with the salmon, be sure to use an alternative that is well seasoned.

spatula holding a large square of lasagna
close view of a spatula holding a large square of pesto salmon lasagna to show the layers

Pesto Salmon Lasagna

Pesto Salmon Lasagna has succulent salmon layered with sun-dried tomato, parmesan bechamel sauce, creamy ricotta with pesto and herbs, cheese, and tender pasta. This decadent dish is perfect for a Sunday dinner, romantic meal, or any occasion when you want to show extra love to someone special.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pesto salmon, salmon lasagna
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Authur: Erica
Servings: 12
Calories: 618kcal

Ingredients

For the salmon

For the pesto ricotta

For the panko topping

For the parmesan bechamel sauce

For the lasagna

  • 1 lb lasagna noodles see Notes
  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil julienne-cut, drained
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz shredded provolone cheese
  • garnish: chopped fresh basil and parsley

Instructions

Bake the salmon

  • Set the oven to heat to 400℉. Put a large pot of water to boil.
  • While oven is heating, lay the salmon on piece of parchment paper on a bake sheet. Alternatively, lay salmon directly on bake sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Bake salmon at 400℉ for 15-20 minutes until fish is just cooked through and flakes with fork. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350℉.

Make the pesto ricotta

  • While salmon is baking, mix the ingredients for the pesto ricotta in a bowl. Set aside.

Make the panko topping

  • Also while the salmon is baking, combine the ingredients for the panko topping in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Cook the pasta

  • Once the salmon is done, put the lasagna noodles into the boiling water and set time to cook al dente according to package directions.
  • Once done, drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking and prevent pasta from sticking.

Make the parmesan bechamel sauce

  • While pasta is cooking, make the bechamel: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Simmer 1 minute.
  • Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Whisk is the parmesan, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, and salt. Set aside.

Assemble the lasagna

  • Spray a 13 x 9 bake dish with cooking spray. Ladle a scant ~1/4 cup bechamel sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.
  • Lay 3 noodles in the dish. Layer ~1/3 of the salmon and of the sun-dried tomatoes. Layer ~1/4 of the mozzarella and provolone cheeses.
  • Lay 3 noodles over the salmon and cheeses. Spread ~1/3 of the pesto ricotta over the noodles.
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  • Layer 3 noodles. Top with the last ~1/3 of the salmon and sun-dried tomatoes. Layer ~1/4 each of the mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Drop spoonful amounts of the remaining ~1/3 of the pesto ricotta over the cheeses.
  • Layer the last 3 noodles. Spread the last of the bechamel sauce over the noodles. Layer the last of the mozzarella and provolone cheeses.
  • Sprinkle the panko topping over the top of the lasagna. Cover bake dish tightly with foil.

Bake lasagna

  • Bake the covered lasagna at 350℉ for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until bubbly around the edges and golden over top.
  • Let the lasagna to sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving. This will allow the layers to set and hold together when serving.

Notes

It helps greatly to gather all of the ingredients together prior to starting or while oven is heating.
A 1 lb (16 oz) box of lasagna noodles contains 20 noodles. This recipe uses 18 noodles, so you will end up with two extras. Lasagna noodles sometimes tear while cooking, so it helps to have a couple extra.
For step 5 under “Assemble the lasagna”: what we are doing is omitting a pasta layer because 1) a box of lasagna noodles doesn’t come with enough, and 2) we want the lasagna to fit in the bake dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 618kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 764mg | Potassium: 644mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g

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