Travel & Cuisine

Roasted mackerel with cilantro pesto
Healthy and simply scrumptious roasted mackerel with pesto, cherry tomatoes and lemon.

I absolutely adore fish and seafood, even though my daily diet mostly comprises plant-based food. Sometimes, on weekends or when I’m celebrating with friends and family, I take pleasure in preparing delectable fish dishes. Today, I’m excited to share with you my favorite recipe for roasted mackerel with cilantro pesto, juicy cherry tomatoes, and zesty lemon.

Don’t be fooled by the humble origins of mackerel – this dish is guaranteed to delight the most exquiste palates!

So, without any more delay, let’s dive in and whip up this scrumptious recipe together!  


Ingredients (4 serves):

  • 1 mackerel per person. Clean, deboned and  filleted.
  • 1 lemon.

Garnish: 2 cups of cherry tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper.

For the pesto:

  • 1/2 cup (75g) of hazelnuts.
  • 1 big bunch of cilantro leaves.
  • 1/3 (75ml) cup of Spanish extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/2 cup +1/4 cup (60 g) grated hard cured Manchego cheese. 
  • 1tsp of sea salt ( or salt to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. 
Utensils to make roasted mackerel with pesto.


  • 1 cutting board.
  • 1 sharp chef knife.
  • 1 mortar and pestle or a hand emulsifier/blender to make the pesto.
  • 1 grater to grate the cheese.
  • 1 Oven tray.
  • 1 oven.


Step 1. Let´s make the pesto.
  • Rinse, tap dry and mince the cilantro leaves.
  • Grate the Manchego cheese. 
  • Combine the grated cheese, chopped cilantro, and the rest of the ingredients in a mortar.
  • Use the pestle to grind and mix all the ingredients into a smooth paste.

The paste’s consistency can be adjusted according to your preference. You can add more or less extra virgin olive oil to make it more or less liquid, or add more hazelnuts to make it more solid.

Grating manchego cheese
hazelnuts and cilantro in a mortar to make pesto
Smash and crush the pesto ingredientes using the pestle in the mortar
Olive oil to make pesto with cilantro
Pesto with cilantro and olive oil using a mortar and pestle
Step 2. Fill the mackerel fillet with the pesto sauce. 
  • To begin, carefully place the mackerel fillet in a ceramic oven tray.
  • Next, scatter the cilantro pesto sauce evenly on top of the fillet, while making sure to reserve a small amount in the bowl for the following step.
  • Finally, place the other half of the mackerel on top of the initial fillet in order to encase the pesto sauce. 

Note that there is no need for strings to do it.

Mackerel fillets covered in cilantro pesto
covering the mackerel fillet with the other side of the fish
pouring pesto sauce on top of the fish
Step 3. Roasting in the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 375ºF.
  • Cut the lemon into wedges and place them in the tray.
  • Place the tomatoes in the tray as well.
  • Put the tray in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

You will see  it´s cooked by the skin tone of the fish and see the tomatoes will look softly cooked.

Mackerel fillet with pesto, cherry tomatoes, slices of lemon in a ceremic oven tray
Chef´s tip

About Pesto Sauce:

  1. I personally love cilantro, but if you’re not a fan, feel free to use the classic basil instead
  2. I find that hazelnuts are a great budget-friendly alternative to pine nuts, especially here in the south of Spain.


Dairy-free version: Don’t worry, you can still enjoy the deliciousness of pesto sauce! Just swap out the Manchego cheese with half a lemon’s juice.

For those who love a tangy kick: If you’re a lemon-lover, try drizzling some lemon-infused olive oil on top of your closed mackerel instead of extra pesto sauce. Yum!

A recipe of roasted mackerel with cilantro pesto sauce, cherry tomatoes an lemon