I had a friend over for dinner last night and made one of my favorite meals, pan seared salmon fillets with grilled vegetables. It turned out so amazing, like seriously something you’d pay a LOT of money for in a nice restaurant! I realized that need to share this recipe with my readers. Don’t be intimidated, thinking that fish is tricky to prepare. I don’t even follow any recipe, that’s how easy this is.
Here’s what’s awesome about this meal:
- It’s really EASY to make! No, really, it’s stupid-easy to make. You virtually can’t mess it up! Maybe ramen noodles are easier to cook, but not much else is.
- It’ SUPER nutritious, filled with the stuff you know you need to eat more of but don’t always know how to add to your diet.
- It tastes AMAZING without needing any seasoning to speak of.
- It’s quick to prepare. I’d say 15 minutes including preparation, maybe 20 minutes your first time making it.
- It’s affordable!
- Salmon fillets (pick however much you want to eat, as no measuring of ingredients is required)
- Vegetables suitable for grilling (again, choose whatever you like)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Butter (optional but recommended)
Preparation & Cooking
- Scale your fillets, leaving the skin bare. That’s all you need to do to your fish.
- Cut your vegetables into suitable grilling sizes, then drizzle/toss with EVOO to coat all sides.
- Lay your vegetables on a hot grill.
- Heat a nonstick skillet until it’s very hot. You almost can’t get it too hot. Almost.
- Melt a small amount of butter in the skillet (you can use oil if you like, but I think the salmon tastes perfect when I use butter). You need only enough butter to keep the salmon from sticking to the pan. Once the salmon starts cooking, it will release its own oil into the pan.
- Immediately after the butter has melted, lay the salmon, skin-side-down, on the (very) hot skillet. It will sizzle loudly. You want this. Too little sizzle = non-crispy skin, which is regrettable.
- Keep the skillet on high heat. Watch the salmon as it cooks; it will turn from a pinkish color to a whitish color. Once bottom of the fillet(s) is 1/3 to 1/2 whitish (about 3 minutes), turn the salmon over, then reduce to low heat (or no heat–you can just let it sit in the hot skillet if you want to).
- By this time, your vegetables should be ready to flip over on the grill, so get to it.
- Returning to the skillet, remove the salmon once the sides appear whitish, which should be only a minute or two after you turn over the fillet. Remove the salmon and put it on a serving plate. It will continue to cook for a minute or two after you remove it from the heat.
- Head out to your grill and pull your veggies off it once they’re ready (usually 4 to 5 minutes per side, if it’s a hot grill). Place them on your plate next to your salmon.
- Crack a little salt onto everything, and enjoy a super healthful, delicious guilt-free meal!
This meal is only so-so if you cook the salmon all the way through. I aim to keep the inside of the fillet pink and translucent at its thickest part (see the picture below). When you get it right, it is in some ways more tender even than sushi, yet it’s warmed all the way through.
Don’t let the small list of ingredients fool you—this meal is PACKED with flavor. There’s no need for any other seasoning, unless you’ve overcooked the salmon, in which case it loses a little bit of the awesomeness and may need a little help. One way to have fun with flavors is to substitute flavored oils for the EVOO (last night I used garlic-infused olive oil, which was amazing).
When buying salmon, I prefer to buy it with the skin on, which is cheaper than buying it skinless. Although you can’t see it in these pictures, the skin turns crispy and delicious when you sear it on high heat. You’ll also get more flavor (and fish oil, which you want in your diet) if you buy the part of the fish nearest the head. Look for fillets with a lot of white (fat) in their bellies. Also, nearer the head, the fillet is thicker, which helps you avoid overcooking it (thin fish cooks all the way through, drying it out and making it chewy, rather than tender).
Regarding vegetables, I’ve had the best success with zucchini squash and yellow squash, which taste ever so slightly sweet when grilled. Other vegetables which work great are asparagus, onions, scallions, bell peppers … leave your favorites in the comment section!
Finally: run some good ventilation in your kitchen, as the hot skillet will release a certain amount of fragrant smoke. Ideally, if you can put your skillet on an outdoor flame (like a side burner on a gas grill), you and whoever else lives in your house will be happier.
I said this is an affordable meal. I got fresh salmon on sale for $5.99 per pound, and I never have to pay more than $10 or $11. When you consider how nutritious and delicious salmon is, and that the same amount of money would barely buy you stewing meat if you tried to purchase beef, I think it’s a bargain.
I also said this meal is easy. Yes, I know my instructions are long, but they can be whittled down to just these steps:
- Sear salmon on hot skillet until cooked almost half through; flip and turn off heat, removing from skillet 2 or 3 minutes later.
- Coat veggies in EVOO, then grill on hot grill.
- Add salt to taste and enjoy.
If you try this recipe, please let us know how it turned out! Email me if you want to submit pictures. Please also remember that sharing is caring, and this site can thrive only when awesome people like yourself click on the social media sharing buttons below 🙂