Salmon is a special treat in our house. It can be one of the more expensive fish choices, and to be honest, it once unnerved me to make it.What do I do with a slab of fish the length of my forearm? I would wonder. But my husband loves it and so I brave it for him on special occasions, and now that I’ve learned the easiest salmon recipe ever, on a busy Tuesday night instead of splurging on takeout, I splurge on fresh salmon.
Seriously, it’s so easy. My thanks go to the ever so popular Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, and her guest blogger and fellow cookbook author Pam Anderson. In this long post, Pam’s Day of Deliciousness, hidden among a feast’s worth of recipes is a gem. The life-changing key to cooking the elusive salmon.
Are you ready? To cook perfect salmon, rub the salmon all over with a little olive oil. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Put it skin down on a cold pan in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Wait 25 minutes. Perfect flaky, moist, flavorful salmon.
I know. Life changing, right?
While it’s cooking, put on some rice and sauté or steam a few veggies, and decide on a sauce (see ideas below). If you’ve picked up fresh fish or thawed frozen salmon the night before, you’ll have dinner made from start to finish in 30 minutes. A perfectly easy, stress-free meal after a day at work. And if there is any left, you can repackage it into a yummy salmon Caesar salad for lunch on the go.
Easiest Salmon Ever
Recipe adapted from Pam Anderson and The Pioneer Woman
- 1 whole side of salmon (2½–3 pounds) (If frozen, thaw overnight in fridge)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Do not preheat oven. Grab a rimmed baking pan or dish big enough for the salmon. Place salmon on the pan and rub generously with olive oil. Pam says about two tablespoons. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper, ending with the salmon skin side down on the pan. Place the pan in the oven and turn it to 400 degrees. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until the fish no longer has that translucent “wet” look to it and it flakes with a fork. If you have a smaller cut, check the fish a few minutes earlier.
We like salmon with just a pat of butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon or a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil, but sometimes we dress it up with a teriyaki sauce, or a cilantro-lime sauce, or a mango-lime salsa. Pam’s original recipe includes baking finglerling potatoes and asparagus alongside the salmon and dressing the whole dish with a lemon-dill-caper sauce—a nice one-dish meal option.
Pack it for school lunch: Leftover salmon is a Caesar salad’s best friend. Toss chopped romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing in the morning. Top with a few grates of fresh parmesan cheese, croutons (packed in a baggie to keep their crunch), fresh cracked black pepper, and a piece of cold salmon. (You can pack salmon separately and warm it up at school if you prefer the warm-on-cold contrast.) Pack with an ice pack to keep cool until lunch.
Rachel Randolph is a mom to a busy toddler boy and a wife to an even busier high school football and baseball coach. She is co-author of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, a food memoir written with her mom, and their upcoming book Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night’s Sleep(Zondervan, January 2015). She also blogs at www.TheNourishedMama.com and www.laughcrycook.com.