Pan Seared Salmon with Tzatziki and Orzo Pesto

This Pan Seared Salmon with Tzatziki and Orzo Pesto is a wonderful main course recipe for warm weather entertaining. It's like a fresh dose of summer in every little bite!

You'll love the combination of the refreshing Tzatziki sauce with cucumber and dill against the warm salmon, and below you'll find my tips for how to sear salmon to perfection! The orzo pesto salad perfectly complements this dish, with its homemade pesto sauce, caramelized vegetables, and pearl mozzarella balls.

The salad and the Tzatziki can also be made ahead of time and served chilled. Making this menu super easy to prepare, since all you have to do is cook the salmon! 

Verical Image of seared salmon with Tzatziki and Pesto Orzo Salad

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Step#1: Make the Orzo Pesto Salad

  • To prepare this dinner, make the Orzo salad first. It's the most time consuming, but this recipe makes a big batch of it and it's fantastic served for lunch or dinners throughout the week!
  • Orzo is a great side dish when you need something chilled that can take the place of rice.
  • The size and texture give you a rice-like feeling, but it's way easier to prepare and is even better when chilled. 
  • This recipe also allows for second servings since I find guests always ask for just a bit more. And not to worry if you have leftovers it makes for a great lunch the next day! 

cooked orzo in a large colander

Step#2: Prepare the Vegetables

  • Dice your vegetables into small bite-sized pieces. The shallots add a terrific sweetness to the salad, but you could also use red onion too. Or substitute for white onion, with a splash of balsamic vinegar while sautéing. This will give you a similar sweet-onion flavor.
  • Start by caramelizing the shallots. After heating the olive oil on high, in a large non-stick pan. Allow them to just sit there and cook. Resist the temptation to move them around. This will allow them the ability to char and caramelize.
  • Once the shallots look good, you'll add the zucchini and do the same thing. Do not touch them until they char! Once done, you can transfer them to a shallow bowl to cool.

caramelized vegetables cooling in a shallow gray bowl

Step#3: Prepare the Homemade Pesto Sauce

  • Homemade pesto sauce is SO easy to prepare and will provide so much more flavor than anything you can buy.
  • It takes just a few ingredients in a food processor, and in minutes you'll have the most fantastic tasting pesto sauce! 
  • It may look like a ton of pesto sauce, but because we are cooking 1lb of Orzo, you really do need the whole thing in order to coat the salad well!

Pesto Ingredients on a cutting board with food processor

But if splitting this recipe in half, I'd still make the same amount of pesto and then use it throughout the week for various recipes. Some of my favorites include my  Pesto Chicken Bake or my Italian Tortellini Salad

Homemade Pesto Sauce in a glass bowl

Step#4: Make the Tzatziki

  • The Tzatziki is really easy to whip up the morning you plan to serve this dish. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better!
  • Since the flavors will be even more pronounced.
  • The best way to add the cucumber is by grating it with a box grater. It will look nicer when spooned over the fish, and it's also easier for guests to eat that way too! 

cumcumber grated on a cutting board with box grater

Step#3: Prepare the Salmon Filet

  • For this recipe, I recommend using 6-ounce salmon filets.
  • I find that's a perfect amount when served with the Tzatziki, and the Orzo salad. All you have to do is season the top with salt and pepper. 

Salmon filet with salt and pepper on blue mat

What Side of Salmon Do do You Sear First?

  • The best side of salmon to sear first is the flesh side.
  • That way when you flip it, it's skin side down.
  • If you have the skin removed, whatever remnants remain, will cook-off in the oven. 

Salmon Searing in a Non Stick Pan

How Do You Know When Pan Seared Salmon Is Done?

  • Personally, I think the most foolproof method is a meat thermometer.
  • Salmon is at it's best when it reaches an internal temperature of 145F-150F. Anything past 160F will result in a dry piece of fish.
  • For this, I think salmon is best pan-seared and then finished in the oven until it comes up to temperature. It's easier to control the heat that way.
  • This technique can also be used in my Pan-Seared Salmon with Buerre Blanc Sauce. Another delicious salmon recipe!

Meat Thermometer Checking Doneness of Salmon

Step#4: Garnish and Serve!

  • I like to garnish this meal with some fresh dill and grated radish.
  • When radish is grated it looks like an edible flower.
  • The radish also adds a nice bite of freshness against the cucumber! 

radishes on cutting board grated with zester in background

Grate the radish over the salmon with a Microplane or a box grater once the fish has been plated and just before serving. 

Seared Salmon on Blue Plate with Cucumber Dill Sauce


Verical Image of seared salmon with Tzatziki and Pesto Orzo Salad

Pan-Seared Salmon with Tzatziki and Orzo Pesto

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

This Seared Salmon with Tzatziki and Orzo Pesto, is like a fresh dose of summer in every little bite! You'll love the combination of the refreshing Tzatziki sauce with cucumber and dill against the warm salmon! Combined with the Orzo pesto, this is a fantastic summer dinner idea!



  • 4 -6 oz salmon filets (169grams each) skin on if possible
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon (30g) coconut oil

Cucumber Sauce

  • ¾ cups (180ml) plain, whole Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon juice
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh dill, minced
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) grated cucumber


  • 2 tablespoon (30ml) grated radish
  • 4 sprigs of fresh dill

Pesto sauce:

  • 2 cups (475ml) basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoon (45ml) pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
  • ½ cup (120ml) olive oil
  • ¼ cup (22g) parmesan cheese

Orzo Salad:

  • 1 lb (450g) of dried orzo
  • 1 cup (150g) frozen peas
  • 2 cups (300g) diced shallots
  • 2 tablespoon (30ml) olive oil
  • 2 cups (300g) diced zucchini
  • 8 oz (230g) Mozzarella pearls in water
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) pine nuts


    2. In a large non-stick skillet heat the olive oil.
    3. Then add the shallots on high heat and cook until translucent. Add the zucchini and allow it to sit in the pan until browned and caramelized as well, stirring occasionally. Season both with salt and pepper. Allow to cool and then set aside.
    4. Boil the orzo according to package directions, cook until al dente. In the last minutes of the orzo’s cooking time, add the peas to the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then drain both through a colander and set aside.
    6. In the bowl of a food processor add the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt. Pulse until minced, scraping down the bowl in between processing.
    7. Slowly add the olive oil, scraping down the bowl to ensure the oil and the basil mixture is incorporated. Continue to add the oil and pulse until a pesto forms.
    8. Remove the bowl from the machine, and remove the blade from the bowl. Stir in the cheese. Transfer the pesto to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
    9. Transfer the pasta and peas to a large mixing bowl, toss with the full amount of pesto until well coated. Stir in the shallots and zucchini, mozzarella balls and pine nuts.
    10. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    12. To prepare the cucumber sauce combine the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, pepper and dill in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine. Then grate the cucumber with a box grater, and fold it into the yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate the sauce until ready to serve.
    13. FOR THE FISH:
    14. Preheat oven to 350F.
    15. Season the flesh side of each salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in two 12” non-stick, skillets.
    16. Once the pan is hot and the oil is shimmering. Place 2 fillets, flesh-side down, in each skillet. Sear the fish until the bottom ¼ inch of the filet turns opaque. At this point gently flip each fish and place both skillets in the oven.
    17. To fit both skillets in the oven at the same time, place one skillet in the back of the oven with the handle going to the right and the other skillet in the front of the oven, with the handle going to the left.
    18. Bake the salmon until the internal temperature registers 145F-150F, about 5-7 minutes. Then remove the skillets.
    19. Place each fillet on a plate. Dollop the cucumber sauce over the middle portion of the fish, allowing it to spill over the sides. Grate 1 teaspoon of fresh radish on top of the tzatziki, along with a sprig of fresh dill. Serve with the Orzo pesto salad.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 840Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 40gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 404mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 7gSugar: 16gProtein: 53g

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  1. you are your father’s daughter & a gift to my kitchen - we are having this tonite! 💃🧑🏻‍🎨