With four kids in our family it’s no surprise to me that each of them has a different food preferences. You would think by now that I’d have all their like and dislikes down pat. After all I’ve been a mom for over 19 years. And as a homeschool mom I spend a lot of time with my kids.

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Salmon

But every once in a while I’m thrown for a loop, like the other day as I was getting ready to make lunch. We hadn’t had eggs for a while, so I planned out a batch of scrambled eggs with a little cheese for our main course. My kids have always liked eggs, so I was a bit shocked when one of my daughters announced she didn’t like scrambled eggs. What, since when? Turns out she doesn’t like my scrambled eggs. Ouch. Oldest daughter has been making them a little different than me and she won her sister over with her own method. What’s the difference? She uses shredded cheese and I use chunks of cheese. 

Not to be outdone I changed course and used shredded cheese. It was an easy fix and everyone was happy again. You never know with kids. Just when you think you have it figured out they change it up and you’re back at square one again.  It pays though, to dig a little deeper on why they don’t like something. It might be as simple as changing how that something is prepared.

Changing plans for this pesto pasta salad was a little different. I like onions and use them in a lot of recipes, but this same child doesn’t care for them (though she’s eaten them plenty of them without realizing it). She loves this salad and last time requested that next time it be made without onions. I told her I would, and as promised there are no onions in today’s salad.

But I did sneak in some kale and spinach, and used whole grain pasta – all healthy options, and heard no complaints about that.  Salmon provides protein as well as healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and is so tasty when it’s grilled. Pesto is another favorite in our family so I used it as a base for the vinaigrette. If you have trouble getting it mixed with the lemon juice and oil try using a hand blender. I have a Cuisinart CSB-79 Smart Stick. It works perfectly for blending together vinaigrette ingredients. It’s seriously one of my favorite kitchen tools.

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Salmon

Secretly, I think a few sliced green onions on top would be delicious. You choose – onions or no? Have your kids surprised you with changing food preferences? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

The words "Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Salmon" under a photo of the salad in a white bowl
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5 from 1 vote

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Salmon

Pasta salad takes on a new look with spinach and kale, and tossed with a pesto vinaigrette. Delicious topped with grilled pesto salmon.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pesto
Servings: 6
Calories: 605kcal
Author: Marie


  • 13.25 oz. box of whole wheat or whole grain penne pasta cooked till al dente, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 c. baby kale
  • 1 1/2 c. spinach
  • 2 c. halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c. diced fresh mozzarella about 8 oz.
  • 1/4 c. sliced kalamata olives
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice or the juice of one lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 Tbsp. pesto divided
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. salmon fillets


  • Prepare salad by tossing together cooked pasta, kale, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella, and kalamata olives.
  • In a small jar mix together lemon juice, garlic, and 3 Tbsp. pesto. Add olive oil and blend vinaigrette together with a hand blender or by capping the jar and shaking all ingredients until well blended.
  • Take a paper towel and lightly pat the salmon dry. Then spread the last tbsp. of pesto evenly on the flesh side of each salmon fillet.
  • Preheat grill to medium high and place salmon on grates flesh side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then check to see if the salmon will easily release from the grates. If so, flip the fillets over so the skin side is down. Cook another 8-10 minutes or until flesh flakes easily. Remove from grill and let rest.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over salad ingredients and tossed gently. Divide salad onto plates.
  • Gently cut salmon into bite size pieces and arrange on top of each plated salad. Serve immediately.

Thank you for sharing!


  1. Hi Marie,
    Four kids is a lot to please! lol….and I bet their tastes are changing a lot as they grow, too.
    This is a dish that I could eat every day. Perfect flavours and freshness – yummy! I have eaten salmon a hundred different ways but never with pesto so that is next on my list. Thanks for a great recipe.
    Have a wonderful day 🙂

    1. Robyn, I loved the pesto with the salmon. It went together even better than I’d hoped. Have a great day!

  2. This looks amazing!! Love pasta salads. Found your recipe at Tuesday’s Table. I am one of the hostesses of Tickle My Tastebuds and would love you to stop by and link up this recipe if you have not yet already. Here is the link

  3. Mmm who can resist pesto? Thanks for sharing with Let’s Get Real (I’m co-hosting this week)!

  4. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Miz Helen

  5. Pingback: Welcome to the Let’s Get Real Party #43
  6. 5 stars
    OMG my husband and I had this last night and my taste buds were tingling all night! this recipe will be a definite long standing one for us in our house, and would definitely use for entertaining. yummy yum! Thank you so much

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