Download a printable recipe cardI used to think that any trout you find in a retail store or on a menu is farm-raised. But I trust the folks who run my go-to fish market. So when they said they had wild trout, I bought it — both the trout and the story.

There are small fisheries for wild Great Lakes trout, but this is steelhead, the Pacific salmon’s kissing cousin. It’s actually a type of rainbow trout, the difference being that steelhead go to sea and return to rivers, much like salmon.

One of my favorite ways to cook trout is with a lemon, butter and caper sauce. But I opted to treat this more like a salmon, and I was not disappointed. My family enjoyed this baked and topped with arugula pesto, served with with lemony kale and mushroom risotto (recipes to follow). Feel free to substitute traditional basil pesto, homemade or store-bought. You could also sub a wild salmon for the trout.

Serves 4


1 1/4 pounds steelhead trout fillet, at least 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, sliced

For the Pesto

3 cups packed arugula leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup pecans or pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

2016 07 SteelheadPestoPreparation

Heat oven to 375. Salt filet lightly, coat with oil, lay lemon slices on surface.

Roast until cooked through, 15-20 minutes.

While the fish is baking, prepare your arugula. Combine all dry ingredients into a blender or food processor, give it a few pulses. While it’s running, add your olive oil in a steady stream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend again.

Remove lemon slices from the cooked fish and, slather liberally with pesto.

Sautéed Lemon Kale

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1 small bunch or 1/2 pound washed, prepared kale greens
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Coarse salt

Heat olive oil and garlic until it just begins to get a light golden color, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add kale, and toss enough to coat with oil and to mix the garlic with greens. Sauté until bright green and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and let it boil off for 10 to 15 seconds. Add a few grinds of salt and serve immediately or cover until ready to serve.

Mushroom Risotto

4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound porcini or white mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chives, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat. Sauté the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Cook until just soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan with pan drippings, and set aside.

Sauté the onion and pepper in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in wine, stirring constantly until it is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice mixture, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue to cook, stirring and adding 1/2 cup at a time, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in the mushroom mixture, butter, chives and parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste.


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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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