"Wellingtons" date back to the 17th century. The original "Beef Wellington" is basically a filet of beef, covered with potted mushrooms, and baked in a puff pastry crust (filet de bœuf en croûte). Wellingtons are also made with other meats, such as my duck breast wellington  (though mine uses a special fig compote instead of potted mushrooms). In my Salmon Wellington, I use my spinach pesto.

  • Preparation time - pesto: 30 minutes (excluding thawing out the frozen spinach)
  • Marinating  time: 20 minutes.
  • Preparation time - Wellington: 30 minutes
  • Bake time: 25 minutes.
  • Makes 4 servings.


  • Ingredients for the spinach pesto:
  • 750 grams (1.5 lbs) frozen whole-leaf spinach (do not use finely chopped or creamed frozen spinach)
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 - 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (never use the bone-dry pre-ground stuff!)
  • 5 heaping tablespoons pine nuts (best if lightly toasted just before making the pesto)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Ingredients for the Wellington:
  • 4 pieces of skinless salmon filet, about 120 grams (1/4 lb) each
  • Pacific salmon is less oily then Atlantic salmon, and tastes better (believe me - I have lived in Seattle for 5 years).
  • 120 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 2 tablespoon finely minced shallots
  • 1 large round sheet of  sheets of puff pastry (round or rectangular, at least 30 cm / 10 inch wide or across)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • lemon juice


  • For the pesto:
  • cheese cloth, or lots of paper kitchen towels
  • fine-mesh sieve
  • food processor
  • medium size bowl

  • For the Wellington:
  • 1 zippable plastic bag, big enough (1 liter / 1 quart) to hold the salmon filets - for marinating
  • Rolling pin
  • Paper kitchen towels
  • Some flour
  • Brush, for putting the egg wash on the puff pastry
  • Cookie/baking sheet or oven tray
  • Some vegetable oil, for greasing the baking sheet


  • For the pesto:
  • Thaw out the frozen spinach and drain very well. This takes lots of squeezing in cheese cloth or paper kitchen towels!
  • After draining the water, the weight of the spinach should be reduced by at least 50%!
  • First, I let the spinach drain by itself in a fine-mesh sieve, then I press the spinach mass with my fist, then I transfer the spinach mass onto paper towels and put this into the sieve and press - repeat until almost no more water comes out.
  • Important: in the end, the spinach much be a big pasty lump - no liquid should drain out if you let it sit on a plate for a while. We are not making a pesto with the creamy consistency of store-bought pesto!
  • Put the spinach, garlic, basil, and the salt in a food processor
  • Pulse several times to begin chopping & blending the ingredients, then turn to high speed and slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture is just beginning to get smooth.
  • Add the pine nuts and blend some more.
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese.
  • This makes enough pesto for two terrines, or for one terrine and have left-over for a pasta meal.

  • For the salmon:
  • Remove the tough dark fatty meat around the spinal line, if any
  • In the zippable bag, mix the lemon juice, minced shallots, dill
  • Put the salmon filets in the bag, push out most of the air and zip the bag
  • Let marinate for 15-20 minutes


Salmon filets, marinating in a zippable baggy

  • For the Wellington:
  • Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C (350 °F) with fan
  • Pre-heat the cookie sheet in the oven (to help bake the bottom of the puff pastry)
  • Keep the puff pastry dough in the refrigerator until you are going to work it
  • Pat the salmon filets dry with paper towels
  • With a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a flour-dusted surface, until about 1/3 bigger - the dough should almost be translucent.
  • Cut into strips that are more than twice the length of the filets, and wide enough to completely wrap a salmon filet (with pesto on it).
  • In the middle of each strip, spread a generous amount of pesto (about 1 cm high; ½"), the size of the filet. See photo below.


  • Put a filet on top of the pesto. If the filet is very thin towards one end, fold that end over onto itself. See photo below.


  • Fold the ends of the dough strip over the salmon, and seal across
  • Crimp and seal the sides of the dough envelope
  • Cut off excess dough - especially the doubled layer.
  • Turn the the dough envelope over. See photo below.


  • Lightly beat the egg with the milk and brush the entire top side of each wrapped filet with the egg wash
  • Take the baking sheet out of the oven (attention - hot!) and lightly grease it with some vegetable oil on a wad of paper towel
  • Transfer the salmon envelopes to the cookie sheet
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes


Two of my rustic looking salmon Wellingtons


  • Serve straight out of the oven, and (as always!!!) use plates that have been heated in the oven
  • Can be served with steamed or pan-fried green asparagus, drizzled with some lemon butter


  • The pesto can be made one or more days ahead of time, and be kept in the refrigerator. if you do so, make sure the pesto is back at room temperature when you use it!
  • Left over pesto can be used used with a pasta meal.
  • Pesto can be made well ahead and kept in the fridge; if so, make sure that it is back up at room temperature when you are going to use it in the above recipe.

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    ©2002-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.