A main dish salmon salad made with flaky roasted fish, baby arugula, pickled shallots, dried fruit, nuts, and a tangy tahini vinaigrette that feels like something you would order in a restaurant but is simple enough for a weeknight dinner!
What looks like something you would order in a cute little French bistro or at an egregiously high price from a fast food salad chain and makes you feel like a BOSS because, yes, you just made it at home in under 30 minutes??
This. It’s this. FANCY weeknight salmon salad.
Saving dinner everywhere, NBD.
The truth is I love a good salad (definition of good = filled with all of the mix-ins, doused in a tasty dressing, not boring) but often find that for something that sounds so simple, gathering and preparing all of the components that make it worth eating takes FOR.EV.ER.
More often than not, I’m happy to just pay someone (Sweetgreen, I’m looking at you) to do all of the work for me and call it a day.
Alas, this is neither cost-effective nor sustainable in the long term so when I find a salad recipe that meets all of my crazy criteria and doesn’t have me spending all day in the kitchen (or is just so amazing that it’s worth the hours of prep time), I’m into it.
This easy salmon salad, inspired by one in the Simply Julia cookbook by Julia Turshen, is the former – ridiculously simple but also still filled with so many flavor and textural components that each bite is, well, FUN.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
First there’s the salmon, which is just a big slab of fish roasted on a sheet pan with a little olive oil, salt, and black pepper. I added some black beans to the roasting pan, which turn into the crispiest little nuggets, whereas Julia uses mushrooms for extra meatiness and umami. Chickpeas or white beans would also work well here, just make sure they are well dried before cooking or they won’t crisp as well.
While the salmon is cooking, thinly sliced shallots are mixed with a quick pickling liquid and set aside to rest and the dressing (basically just a mix of olive oil, tahini, soy sauce, and lemon juice) is quickly whisked together.
Once the salmon has cooked, toss arugula with the dressing, divide it among serving bowls, and top it with all of the remaining salad components. I’ve used dried sour cherries and sunflower seeds here but the beauty in this is that it is adaptable to any dried fruit and/or nut that your heart desires.
Serve on its own as a lighter meal, alongside hot crusty bread with butter (as we have been known to do), or toss with your favorite whole grain for added oomph.
There are no wrong ways, just enjoy however life takes you, really.
- 1½ lb salmon, skin and bones removed
- 2 (15 oz) can black beans, drained, rinsed, and well-dried
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 large or 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for salmon and black beans
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 5 oz baby arugula
- ½ cup dried sour cherries or cranberries
- ¼ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
- Heat oven to 450F.
- Place the salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss the black beans with a little bit of olive oil, salt and black pepper. Spread them around the salmon pieces in a single layer. Roast for 15-25 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your salmon, or until it is opaque in the center and the black beans are crispy.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine ½ tsp salt, shallots, sugar, and red wine vinegar. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- For the dressing, in a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and tahini. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- When ready to serve, add the arugula to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates.
- Break the fish into large pieces and place on top of the arugula. Top with the shallots and their pickling liquid, dried cherries, and sunflower seeds. Serve immediately.