Barbette’s Dill Pesto

The Heavy Table asked Chef Sarah Master of Barbette to share her favorite seasonal recipe with our readers. She handed us a recipe for dill pesto, below. Barbette fans may be familiar with this dish; it appears on the restaurant’s menu in an orzo pasta salad paired with seared wild-caught salmon.

Yvonne Wagner / Heavy Table
Yvonne Wagner / Heavy Table

The dish is a true representation of the season. “I chose classic summer flavors: dill, cucumbers, fresh sheep’s milk feta, and dill’s natural pairing, salmon,” says Master. On the first bite, I noticed the play between the crunch of the sear on the salmon and the velvety flesh beneath. More opposites complemented each other in the pasta salad; the cucumber chunks added a refreshing bite next to the melt-in-your-mouth orzo pasta and feta. The dill pesto brought all the flavors of the dish to the next level.

When asked about her inspiration for the dish, Master says: “Growing up here in Minnesota, there was no shortage of cold pasta salad in the hot summer months. I remember being out at our cabin during summer vacation and always having pasta salad in some shape or form to munch on in between boat rides, waterskiing, and four-wheeling in the woods. I love the idea of a cool, light dinner when the humidity hits.”

Dill Pesto
1 pint — enough for 8 servings
Courtesy of Chef Sarah Master of Barbette

3 ½ cups fresh picked dill
½ cup walnuts
¾ cup shredded parmesan
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic
1 tbsp salt

1. Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

2. Toss about 2-3 tablespoons of the pesto in with 3 cups of cooked and chilled orzo pasta.

3. Add ¼ cup crumbled feta and one diced cucumber to the orzo. Serve with seared salmon.

Learn more about this business on Heavy Table’s Atlas of Ethical Eating and Drinking.


  1. Jennie K.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this and love love love it. It beats basil pesto hands down and tastes so fresh and wonderful in the summer. The perfect way to use dill which usually comes in such a huge bunch.

  2. Julia Smith

    Hi there – tried the recipe and it’s really nice, with the exception of the salt… I’m normally a salt fiend, but 1 tablespoon is far, far too much. I put in about 1.5 teaspoons and it was still way too salty. I’ve added more dill and more olive oil, and it’s just about edible – is this a typo?

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